Is It a Cold or Winter Allergies? How to Tell the Difference


As the winter wears on, you are likely to experience some cold symptoms at some point. Nearly everyone gets the sniffles and sneezing at some point during the winter. What many people do not realize is that those symptoms could be a sign of winter allergies. While the symptoms can be similar, there are some differences.

Shared Symptoms

A cold and allergies can have similar symptoms. You can have a runny nose, persistent sneezing, and congestion. If these are the only symptoms you are having, one way you can distinguish between the two is duration. A cold generally doesn’t last more than two weeks. Allergies will persist as long as the allergen is present. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, it’s time to consider allergies as the culprit.

Cold Symptoms

There are some symptoms you may have with a cold that are not associated with allergies. Fever, chills, and a persistent cough are signs of a cold. While you can have a slight cough with allergies, most often persistent coughing is a sign of a common cold. Severe chest congestion is also a sign that a cold is the problem. Continue reading “Is It a Cold or Winter Allergies? How to Tell the Difference”

Tips For Celebrating Safely With Food Allergies

Services-Food-AllergiesWhether it’s the Fourth of July or your birthday, celebrating important occasions with food is a tradition as old as time. After all, what is Thanksgiving without the turkey, or Valentine’s Day without the chocolate?

While there’s no doubt that celebrating with food is fun, it isn’t so simply for people with food allergies. Whether you’re allergic to tree nuts, milk, gluten, or anything in between, eating at holiday parties can feel less like a celebration and more like a minefield. Use these tips to indulge safely at any occasion.

RSVP With Detail

It is any host’s goal to help her guests enjoy the perfect party experience. RSVP early and include details of your food allergy. Be polite, not demanding, and explain that you simply want to make sure you don’t put yourself in harm’s way with a delicious snack that is actually an unexpected food allergy trigger.

If you feel comfortable doing so, it’s even a good idea to extend your RSVP into a full conversation with your host. Approach the conversation as your way to educate and help the party host, not insult and judge her. She’s likely to feel appreciative that you helped her create the safest and most enjoyable environment for people with food allergies at her party. Continue reading “Tips For Celebrating Safely With Food Allergies”

Immunodeficiency and Infection: Who’s At Risk?

Immunodeficiency is a serious issue, even if you’re not quite sure what it means. Any child or adult with an immunodeficiency suffers from some type of genetic or medical condition that negatively affects how their immune system works to fight infections.

Some children are born with abnormal immune systems due to genetic conditions called primary immunodeficiency disorders. Other people develop chronic conditions like cancer or lupus that require medications that stunt the immune system. Either way, those with immunodeficiency are significantly more vulnerable to infection than those with healthy and thriving immune systems.

What Medications Suppress the Immune System?

If you take any of the following medications to control a disease or chronic condition, it’s likely that your immune system has become compromised and placed you at higher risk of infection:

  • Steroids like prednisone
  • Calcineurin inhibitors like cyclosporine
  • mTOR inhibitors like sirolimus
  • Biologic response modifiers like Humira and Remicade
  • Chemotherapy or radiation

Continue reading “Immunodeficiency and Infection: Who’s At Risk?”

Do You Have a Chronic Skin Condition? How to Identify Eczema and Psoriasis

Your skin is red, irritated, and peeling, but why? You could be one of the millions of Americans dealing with a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. Don’t worry though, clear skin isn’t out of your reach!

It’s not always easy to distinguish between irritating skin conditions, but learning to recognize the differences and quickly seeking treatment from a qualified dermatologist are both vital steps on the path to clear and healthy skin.

An Introduction to Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a very common condition that causes a person’s immune system to instruct skin cells to duplicate and grow faster than they naturally should. This excess of skin cells prevents dead skin from falling off like it should. Instead, old, dead, and damaged skin cells accumulate on the skin and cause red, itchy blotches.

You may have plaque psoriasis if you have raised, reddish patches on the skin. While many patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp, they can develop anywhere on the body. They feel itchy, but scratching them only causes them to grow thicker.   Continue reading “Do You Have a Chronic Skin Condition? How to Identify Eczema and Psoriasis”

What Allergies Form in the Winter?

Services-SinusitisThe spring and fall aren’t the only seasons that can cause uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Winter allergies are far more common than you may realize. Your itchy eyes, congestion, and headaches could actually be due to allergy triggers unique to the cold season. Here’s what you should know!

Fireplace Smoke

There are few things more comforting than a cold night, a hot fire, and a great book, but it turns out that your fireplace could be causing your allergy symptoms. If you have a real wood fire, the smoke could be acting like an irritant and causing your itchy eyes and sore throat. Gas fireplaces don’t create real smoke, but they can still send irritants airborne. Try keeping your fireplace off for a week or two to observe changes in your symptoms.

Forced-Air Furnaces

Turning on your heat for the first time? Be prepared for the airborne dust that your forced-air furnace will spread throughout your home. Lint, fabric fiber, bacteria, animal dander, and food material combine into one large allergy nightmare and travel with your heated air to drive you crazy. Everything from dust mites to cockroach droppings are likely to circulate through your house in the winter. Yuck!


Florida’s weather doesn’t reach the freezing cold temperatures needed to stop mold in its tracks. As a result, mold remains just as much a threat in the winter as it does during the spring and fall. Mold can develop indoors or outdoors, and though you cannot control mold in nature, you can certainly use a dehumidifier to control mold in your home.

Visit Your Allergist

Don’t assume you are stuck with your winter allergies forever. An experienced allergist like Dr. Kratz can evaluate your symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment to kick your allergy symptoms.

Call (813) 670-7062 today to schedule your first appointment at Kratz Allergy and Asthma.

Fall Allergy Season: What You Need to Know to Cope

If you suffer from allergies, you have been living in misery for the past month or two now that autumn has arrived. You’re probably ready to escape your allergy symptoms and start enjoying the cooler weather, so here’s what you need to know about coping with fall allergy season.

Watch out For Ragweed

A full 75% of people who suffer from springtime allergies also experience strong allergic reactions to ragweed in the fall. Ragweed is a yellow flowering weed that starts to bloom in August. It lasts for many months in Florida due to the hot and humid weather. With no early winter frost to kill ragweed, it can linger through the holidays.

In order to stop the itchy eyes and congestion caused by ragweed, take these simple steps:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible on days with high pollen counts
  • Avoid outdoor activities during mid-morning and early afternoon
  • Always keep car and house windows completely closed to prevent infiltration
  • Vacuum your carpets regularly
  • Remove your outerwear before you walk into your house

Continue reading “Fall Allergy Season: What You Need to Know to Cope”

What Is Causing Your Itchy Skin?

Scratching an itch brings a unique sense of relief, but what happens when your itching just won’t stop? Chronically itchy skin is usually a symptoms of a larger problem that needs to be addressed. If your skin has become red and raw from itching, try to narrow down the cause so you can finally seek relief.

Treat Dry Skin

Dry skin is one of the most common causes of itchy skin, especially as winter approaches. Dry air especially the forced heat in your home, will dry out your skin quickly. Be proactive by preventing dry skin with the following tips:

  • Use moisturizer every time you bathe or wash your hands
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated
  • Run a humidifier
  • Don’t use scalding hot water
  • Choose mild soaps

Continue reading “What Is Causing Your Itchy Skin?”

Is It a Cold or Fall Allergies?

Services-SinusitisYour nose is running, you can’t stop coughing, your eyes are itchy, and you feel terrible. It’s fall, which means allergies and the common cold are both potential causes of your symptoms. How can you interpret your symptoms to determine the real cause of your misery? Use this guide to help!

Track Symptom Triggers

Though the symptoms of allergies and the common cold are similar – runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, lethargy – the triggers of the symptoms will be different. If your symptoms continue throughout the day and become even worse before bed, it might be a cold. A medication like Dayquil might be able to bring you relief.

On the other hand, if your symptoms only occur at specific times or in certain places, allergies are most likely to blame. Pollen counts are highest around midday, so if allergies are to blame, your symptoms could worsen between lunch and dinner, especially if you are outside during that time or have the windows open. Continue reading “Is It a Cold or Fall Allergies?”

What to Do If Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies

You’re not the only one suffering from allergies this fall! It’s possible that your pet is experiencing uncomfortable seasonal allergy symptoms as well. Allergens saturate the air this time of year, especially in Florida where the temperatures don’t cool down quickly.

Just like you rely on a daily antihistamine to survive your worst allergy symptoms, your pet needs appropriate medical care to avoid and prevent the discomfort that develops as a result of seasonal allergies. Here’s what you should know to keep your furry friend comfortable during allergy season and beyond.

Does Your Pet Have Seasonal Allergies?

Rather than the respiratory tract symptoms that humans experience, dogs and cats are prone to skin irritation and inflammation called allergic dermatitis. You’ll notice your pet struggling with very itchy skin and the following symptoms:

  • Scratching excessively
  • Biting and chewing certain spots
  • Rubbing against vertical or horizontal surfaces to stop itching

Unfortunately, this itch and scratch cycle causes your pet’s skin to become even more inflamed and tender to the touch. Your pet will eventually experience hair loss, scabbing, and open sores on the skin if his allergies are not treated. Continue reading “What to Do If Your Pet Has Seasonal Allergies”

Considering Allergy Shots? Here’s What You Should Know

Services-ShotsNow that the harsh Florida summer is subsiding, fall allergies are arriving to make you equally as miserable. If you’re tired of spending every autumn behind a box of tissues, allergy shots could offer the relief you need. Here’s everything you should know about this treatment option and its potential benefits for your quality of life.

Identify Your Allergies First

Allergies come in many different variations, and your doctor needs to identify your specific allergens before treatment can begin. Allergens are uncovered using a “scratch test.” During a scratch test, your doctor places several small scratches on your arm or upper back. Small amounts of common allergens are placed on the scratched area.

Your skin will become irritated, red, and itchy in the area where your specific trigger allergens are located. For example, your upper back might become red and itchy where pet dander was placed. Dust, pollen, and molds are the other most common allergens. Continue reading “Considering Allergy Shots? Here’s What You Should Know”