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How to manage sore throats from seasonal allergies

sore throat

Seasonal allergies can be more than just a nuisance, often leading to a sore throat that leaves many wondering if they’re facing allergies or a cold. Omid Mehdizadeh, M.D., an otolaryngologist and laryngologist, confirms that a sore throat can be a symptom of allergies due to overactive mucus production. However, distinguishing between allergies and conditions like colds, the flu, or COVID-19 can be challenging, especially with overlapping symptoms.

Can allergies cause a sore throat?

Yes, allergies can affect your throat. When your body encounters an allergen, it triggers an inflammatory response, which includes increased mucus production. This mucus can lead to congestion, a runny nose, and post-nasal drip, irritating your throat. William Reisacher, M.D., director of allergy services at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, explains that the physical connection between the ears, nose, and throat means that issues in one area can affect the others, contributing to the sore throat sensation.

Distinguishing allergies from colds or viral infections

Identifying the cause of a sore throat can be tricky. Allergies produce symptoms quickly after exposure to an allergen, while colds develop more gradually. Allergy symptoms often include itching, stuffiness, and a tickle in the throat, especially after outdoor activities. In contrast, a worsening sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, chills, or body aches typically indicate a cold or infection. If allergy medications are ineffective, it may be a sign that you’re dealing with something other than allergies.

Treating a sore throat caused by allergies

Allergy medications like antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl) and nasal sprays (ipratropium, fluticasone) are often the first defense against allergy-induced sore throats. These medications help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Natural remedies, such as gargling with warm salt water, staying hydrated, and inhaling steam, can also provide relief. Additionally, minimizing exposure to allergens by keeping windows closed and showering after being outdoors can prevent symptoms from flaring up.

Understanding the differences between allergy symptoms and other conditions is crucial for proper treatment. If you’re unsure about the cause of your symptoms, consulting with a health care provider is always recommended.