Runny nose and itching are two characteristic symptoms of the spring season. But is it a cold or an allergy? Dr. Luca Malvezzi, otorhinolaryngologist and specialist in cervical facial surgery in Humanitas, responds in an interview with Obiettivo Salute on Radio 24.

“Allergy has a generally seasonal tendency and the symptoms are similar to those of the cold: nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, the sharing of the neighboring paranasal sinuses and therefore the reduction of the sense of smell, ear padding and the feeling of a heavy head.

If it lasts 2-3 days it is a real cold, a viral rhinosinusitis, while in the case of allergic cold the symptomatology lasts for the entire period of the allergy and has precisely a seasonal pattern. However, it is necessary to make a clarification: in Italy you can be allergic as a result of flowering in 11 months out of 12 (except November) and compared to the past there are many more patients allergic, even to more substances and therefore the symptomatology can last for long periods during the year.

It is therefore even more important to make a specialist assessment and a distinction between allergic and non-allergic problems, rhinitis or rhinosinusitis and lower respiratory tract involvement,” stressed Dr. Malvezzi.


Nasal sprays, only under medical advice

“Nasal decongestant sprays are very common, but it is good that the patient receives a precise indication from their doctor on which is most appropriate to use because not all of them are appropriate to their situation. Vasoconstrictor sprays, for example, may be useful but must be used for short periods of time. You should seek advice from your doctor before purchasing these products.

Cortisone sprays, on the other hand, are the most widely used in allergy sufferers and are tailored to their needs; some are supplemented with antihistamines and are therefore more effective. Again, the use should be modulated and agreed with the practitioner, but these sprays can be used for longer periods safely, except for special categories of patients.

However, it is important that allergic patients are constantly monitored by the specialist and that the course of the allergy is followed over time from a multi-specialist point of view,” concluded Dr. Malvezzi.