Spring is here – which means that, in addition to warmer weather and beautiful flower blooms, the season is also bringing some common spring illnesses with it. Runny nose? Check. Watery eyes? Totally. Fever? Could be.
A lot of common spring illnesses have similar symptoms, such as the common cold, the flu, sinus infections and spring allergies. So how do you know which is which? And when should you go see your primary care provider?
Identifying symptoms and diagnosing illnesses are the first steps in knowing how to treat them – allowing you to enjoy a healthier, happier spring season!
Why do I get sick when spring starts?
The environment around you heavily impacts your overall health. When we move from winter to spring, the shift in temperatures provides an opportunity for viruses and bacteria to flourish, which can then spread contagious diseases.
Additionally, spring is when we see plant life begin to bloom for the year, which causes many of the most common allergens, including pollen, mold and grass. Essentially, spring, while warm and beautiful, can also be the prime environment for allowing everything that helps illnesses to thrive.
What are the most common spring illnesses?
The virus we see most frequently in the spring is the human rhinovirus (HRV), which causes the majority of common colds. Symptoms of a cold usually peak within two to three days and can include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing and mucus buildup.
While the flu is most common between December and February, you still may have a high risk of catching it in the spring. These symptoms are very similar to those of a cold, with the added symptoms of body fatigue and aches, chills and fever.
Other common springtime illnesses to look out for include:
- Asthma, which causes shortness of breath and chest tightness or pain.
- Pink eye, a viral or bacterial infection that causes redness, irritation and discharge in the eye.
- Sinus infections, which happen when fluid builds up in the air-filled pockets in the face (sinuses) and produces a stuffy and runny nose, headaches and facial pain or pressure.
- Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection transferred by infected ticks and causes a fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash.
How do I tell if I’m getting sick or if it’s allergies?
Hay fever or allergy symptoms, such as stuffy or runny nose, cough, watery eyes and sneezing, are also symptoms we see in many viral and bacterial illnesses. This can make it confusing to diagnose on your own.
Generally, seasonal allergies mainly impact your upper respiratory tract. This means that typically, you’ll only experience symptoms in your head, face and throat. These symptoms may worsen when you’re spending time outside, as the most common allergens are pollen, mold and grass.
If you’re experiencing a fever, body aches or chills, trouble breathing and fatigue, you most likely are experiencing a viral or bacterial illness and not allergies.
Like with any irregular symptoms you may experience in the spring, the best way to diagnose any symptoms is by visiting a medical professional. Identifying a problem is the first step in figuring out what may be causing your symptoms.
How can I prevent spring illnesses from getting in the way of my day-to-day life?
The best way to stay healthy in the spring is to practice preventative health measures to boost your immune system and reduce your chances of getting sick. This includes washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your nose, mouth and eyes, eating healthy, exercising regularly and keeping up with your vaccinations.
You should also ensure your home air conditioning and ventilation units are kept clean. If mold, bacteria or other microbes grow in your unit, you may experience irritating symptoms and increase your chances of getting sick.
If you have symptoms that are affecting the quality of your daily life, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider. They can then work with you to identify the source of your symptoms and find a treatment that works best for you. However, if you have any life-threatening symptoms, such as shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or a high fever, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
Learn about the primary care services we offer at Bon Secours.