After a winter that felt like it was never going to end, you're probably pretty excited to get out into that warm air and spend some time outside these next few months — but if your allergies won't go away, this might become more complicated than you were expecting. Between pollen, dust, and grass, allergies can become a total nightmare of nonstop sneezing and sniffling. If you're wondering why your allergies won't go away, even when you use what you think is the right medication, it might be because you're not actually dealing with allergies to begin with.
According to Dr. Jamie Koufman, founder and director of The Voice Institute of New York, author of the book Acid Reflux in Children, and a leading authority on the diagnosis and treatment of acid reflux, your allergies might not be allergies at all: They might just be acid reflux in disguise.
In fact, Dr. Koufman explains, many of the symptoms for seasonal allergies — including chronic cough and throat-clearing, breathing problems when you first wake up, sinus problems, and post-nasal drip — are often doubling, or perhaps even masquerading, as symptoms for acid reflux.
"If you truly have allergies," Dr. Koufman tells Elite Daily, "symptoms will typically be worse when you are exposed to allergens, and allergy attacks will come on suddenly."
In other words, if you're not sure whether you're dealing with allergies or something else entirely, think about when your symptoms seem to flare up the most.
For instance, Dr. Koufman says, a good sign that it's truly your allergies acting up is if they flare spontaneously in reaction to allergens like dust or pollen. Otherwise, she explains, if you're just dealing with these symptoms on a regular, consistent basis, with no apparent trigger to blame, then it could be a sign of reflux.
Of course, this might seem a little confusing, since acid reflux is commonly associated with middle-aged adults who have trouble eating foods like bacon and chili, and do things like clutch their chest and yell out "heartburn!" But in truth, Healthline reports that roughly 20 percent of the entire U.S. population has acid reflux. What's more, Dr. Koufman says, acid reflux can lead to a whole host of symptoms, plenty of which can feel like an allergy attack, or a particularly bad case of asthma.
In case you're not really sure what acid reflux even is (it's cool, I didn't either), it's basically what happens when your stomach acid flows backward up into your esophagus, according to Mayo Clinic, which is why people often feel a burning sensation in their chest, or taste something sour in their mouth when they have this condition. But in terms of the full laundry list of symptoms associated with reflux, Dr. Koufman notes, there are several that could easily be mistaken for allergies, including asthma, trouble breathing when exercising, a stuffy nose, tonsillitis, a runny nose, ear infections, sinus infections, a raspy voice — that all probably sounds really familiar, right?
Since it can be confusing AF to tell the difference between these two things, one easy way to figure it out is to take Dr. Koufman's Symptom Index Quiz (as shown in the image below), which will help you narrow down your symptoms and figure out what, exactly, is making you feel so crummy.
If you're starting to think you might have acid reflux instead of allergies, don't worry — there are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to help you deal with it.
Even though acid reflux causes symptoms similar to allergies, Dr. Koufman is quick to point out that the best remedies for acid reflux will be found within your diet and your nutrition.
"Acid reflux can be corrected by eating healthier food and changing the time when you eat," she tells Elite Daily. Specifically, she explains, try to steer clear of fast food and processed meat (yes, unfortunately, that means bacon) as much as you can, and try substituting soft drinks or sugary juices with water, instead.
As Dr. Koufman says, you also want to consider when you're eating your meals throughout the day. Try not to eat too late at night, she suggests, and make it a point to stop eating at least three hours before bed. She also recommends sleeping at a 45-degree angle once you're cozied up under the sheets — which, I know, sounds super weird, but according to Koufman, this will help move your digestion process along more smoothly.
Of course, the symptoms you're feeling could be a combination of several things, so it's possible that you have a little flare-up of allergies in concert with a nasty case of acid reflux. Depending on what you're allergic to, a good thing to do is simply pay attention to when your symptoms get worse, and proceed from there.
If your symptoms are consistently miserable, it might just be time to see a doctor, if only to get back to the bacon sooner, you feel me?