Jefferson University Hospitals


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Allergies are one of the most common conditions affecting millions of American adults and children. If you have allergies, your body’s immune system overreacts to certain substances that are harmless to other people, triggering reactions that range from mild sniffles to the life-threatening medical emergency called anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body reaction marked by swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure, difficulty breathing and a rapid, weak pulse.

Some people are confused by the difference between allergies and the common cold because both conditions can affect their sinuses, airways, digestive system and even their skin.  But colds are caused by viruses whereas allergies are caused by an oversensitive immune system. Distinguishing a cold from an allergy is difficult because many symptoms overlap. But, colds rarely last longer than 14 days, so if you still have symptoms after two weeks, you may have an allergy or another medical issue.

Another common misconception is that people are allergic to substances they don’t like. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a child or adult to develop an allergy to a favorite food, flower, well-loved pet or medication – and just as common for the allergic sensitivity to disappear as quickly as it arrived.

Coronavirus or Allergies?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is happening at the same time as many seasonal allergies. How can you tell the difference?

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With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak occurring at the same time as many seasonal allergies, some of the symptoms (including coughing and runny nose) may be a cause for concern.  If you are only experiencing congestion, sneezing, wheezing, itchy nose and throat, itchy eyes and ears, sinus congestion and/or post-nasal drip these are signs of seasonal allergies. However, if you have symptoms that include fever, shortness of breath, body ache, fatigue, sore throat, gastrointestinal upset, loss of taste, loss of smell and/or conjunctivitis you may have COVID-19.

Why Choose Jefferson

If you’re not sure you or your child’s sneezing, itching, runny nose, coughing or watery eyes are due to an allergic reaction or another illness, Jefferson can help. Our board-certified specialists in allergy, immunology and asthma can conduct diagnostic tests to determine if the problem is allergies, or allergies plus another medical condition, or if your symptoms are caused by another disease. Our team of experts will recommend a treatment plan designed to help alleviate the symptoms and manage the condition, based on their years of experience and latest clinical research.

Make an Appointment

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) and speak with a representative who will assist you in making an appointment with one of our specialists or request an appointment online.