It may not feel like it, but spring is here. And for millions, that means the return of seasonal allergies.


If you know that you’re in for symptoms such as watery eyes, scratchy throat, stuffy nose and cough, now is the time to start preventive treatment. When people breathe in pollen—the tiny particles released into the air by trees, grass and weeds—many folks’ bodies perceive that pollen as a foreign invader. The immune system, in turn, releases antibodies to attack the allergens, thereby releasing chemicals called histamines, which trigger the allergy symptoms.

Medicines called antihistamines can block those chemicals, preventing the allergic reaction, but they work best if they are already in the body when the immune system perceives it’s being attacked. So an early start can save some of the misery.

Besides taking medications early in the season, it’s also helpful to take them regularly throughout the season so that the body is ready on those days when the pollen count skyrockets.


When symptoms hit, decongestants can help clear nasal passages, and eye drops relieve itchy and watering eyes.

Other medications, including prescription nasal spray with corticosteroids that reduce inflammation and allergy shots may be in order. Shots gradually expose you to allergens so that the body can build up defenses.

Allergies or a Cold?

It is often confusing to sort out the difference between an allergic reaction and the common cold, since the symptoms are so similar.

Here are some hints:

  • Allergies are NOT associated with fevers and body aches. If you have these symptoms, something else is going on.
  • Colds typically last between 3 and 14 days. If symptoms continue, there’s a chance allergies are present.
  • Itchy, watery eyes are often a symptom of allergies but are only rarely associated with a common cold.
  • Allergies are not contagious. Colds are.

Treatments for allergies are different than for a common cold, so it’s important to make the distinction. Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Timonium for help figuring out your symptoms and treatment options.

We are open seven days a week, with no appointment required, and accept most insurance plans. If you have questions, give us a call, 410-453-0002.