It is no fun battling with allergies, especially when they occur like clockwork and you feel helpless to stop them. Its symptoms can be quite a nuisance — a runny nose, itching, and watery, bloodshot eyes.
Another symptom that sometimes comes with an allergy is a sore throat. You might think that a scratchy throat can only be a sign of colds or a viral infection, but if it comes along with your seasonal affliction, it may just be one of the normal symptoms of your allergies.
Allergies and Sore Throat
When you encounter an allergen, such as dust or pollen, your body triggers a response to this unwelcome invader. Whether it gets in your airways when you breathe it in or it enters through your eyes or skin, your immune system reacts by trying to protect your body through an inflammatory response.
One of these responses is to produce extra mucus to help rid your body of the perceived threat. This mucus often triggers a runny nose and causes congestion. And since your nose is connected to your throat and ears, these parts may become affected as well.
Excess mucus can accumulate in the back of your throat. When it starts dripping from your nose down into the back of your throat, this is known as postnasal drip. This can irritate your throat and make it feel raw and scratchy. On top of that, allergens may also cause inflammation in your throat and aggravate its soreness.
Allergies or a Cold?
Because allergies and viral infections often have the same symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, congestion, and headaches, you might be unsure which one is causing your discomfort.
One way to determine if your symptoms are a sign of allergies or a cold is to look back on how they started. Allergy symptoms typically come out rather abruptly, soon after you get in contact with an allergen. On the other hand, symptoms of a viral infection usually crop up gradually.
A sore throat caused by a viral infection also tends to become worse and may even reach the point that it makes it hard for you to swallow. You may also find yourself with a fever, chills, or body aches. Moreover, with a cold, your allergy medications might not help you at all.
Treating a Sore Throat Caused by Allergies
The best way to tackle a sore throat caused by allergies is to target the root of the problem. Antihistamines such as Claritin, Benadryl, or Zyrtec not only reduce inflammation in your throat but also relieve other symptoms of your allergy. To relieve postnasal drip, try a nasal spray such as ipratropium or a nasal glucocorticoid such as fluticasone.
If you want to save the allergy medications as a last resort, you may want to start with home remedies first. Some things you can do to soothe a sore throat include gargling with warm salt water, drinking lots of water, and inhaling steam. You may also try these remedies alongside your allergy meds for maximum effect.
The best way to deal with allergies is to prevent them from happening in the first place. You can do this by reducing your exposure to allergens, especially the ones that are known to trigger your allergies.
For example, you can avoid going outside on dry windy days when there is a lot of pollen in the air. Wear a pollen mask if you need to do something outdoors. Don’t hang your laundry outside where pollen can stick to them. Take a shower after you’ve been outdoors to wash away the pollen that may have gotten on your skin and hair.
To reduce indoor allergy triggers, keep your air clean inside the house. Use air conditioning, preferably with high-efficiency filters, and keep it regularly maintained. Have a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and opt for a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Invest in a dehumidifier that will help keep the air in your home dry.
Like the other symptoms of your seasonal allergies, a sore throat is treatable and even preventable. Identifying the root of your problem is the first step in finding the best solution.