If you’re allergic to something, your body sees proteins in that substance as a foreign invader. When those proteins get into your system - say, by breathing in a whiff of dust or getting pollen blown into your eyes - your immune system launches an inflammatory response in an attempt to protect you.
Part of that inflammatory response involves producing lots of extra mucus. The mucus helps propel the debris out of your body, but it can give you a runny nose and congestion. And that’s not all. “The ears, nose, and throat are all physically connected, so problems in one area can affect another.”
As a result, that mucus can cause postnasal drip, where it dribbles down the back of your throat and makes it feel raw and irritated. Allergens can also trigger the tissues in the back of your throat to become inflamed, which only adds to the discomfort.
Both allergies and infections can cause symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, and congestion. So how can you tell what’s actually making you feel sickly?
How your symptoms begin are often one big clue:
- Colds tend to creep up slowly, while allergy symptoms usually flare up shortly after you’re exposed to an allergen, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. If you start to notice itching, stuffiness, or an annoying tickle in the back of your throat after spending some time outside, for instance, you’re probably dealing with allergies.
Other clues to watch for:
- If your sore throat tends to get worse or makes it hard to swallow, or you develop a fever, chills, or body aches, you’re probably dealing with a cold or infection, If your allergy medications don’t seem to be helping, that’s also a sign it's probably a cold.
Contact Gansbaai Pharmacy for any further questions.