Is it allergies or is it a cold? Here's what's bugging metro Detroit

Posted at 7:05 AM, Apr 10, 2024

Spring is here. Our days are longer, temperatures are rising, and many of us are spending more time outside. But it’s also a time of transition.

Some of those changes are sending metro Detroiters to the doctor’s office. So I checked in with local primary care providers to find out what's bugging metro Detroit.

Flowers are blooming, leaves are sprouting, and grass is waking up from winter dormancy, and so are spring allergies.

"The itchy eyes, the runny nose, the itchy throat, all of it," Dr. Asha Shajahan, a physician with Corewell Health Family in Roseville, said.

She says she started seeing allergy sufferers coming in about a month earlier than usual. The season kicked off in late March instead of the typical start in April, with pollen the biggest pain right now.

"That's usually the most bothersome to people, but also the weeds, like you mentioned, the grass, like all of it. This is the time that people are starting to fertilize," Shajahan said.

As for the triple threat of COVID-19, fu and RSV, Shajahan is seeing fewer cases.

"If we did this a month ago, I definitely saw a lot of flu and even COVID-19. But now I think we're seeing just a lot more of the common cold and, people developing, into sinusitis," she said.

"Sinusitis is an infection typically caused by a bacteria or a virus," Dr. Brandon Karmo with Ascension Orchard Primary Care in Farmington Hills said.

Karmo is also seeing patients coming with allergies and sinusitis. He says sinusitis leads to inflammation and mucus buildup in the sinus cavities. Symptoms can include a runny nose, yellow-green mucus, and drainage down the back of the throat.

"Most cases are viral, and they tend to resolve on their own in about 7 to 10 days. We recommend things like lots of fluids, warm compresses," he said.

They also recommend over-the-counter medications to help with mucus buildup and drainage. If the sinusitis is bacterial, you may also have a fever, and without treatment, it will last longer than 7-10 days. You’ll want to see your doctor for antibiotic treatment.

He’s also seeing fewer cases of Influenza A, which hit people hard this year, with symptoms lingering for weeks. Now, he’s seeing a few cases of influenza B.

"Which typically is not as severe as some of those earlier flu cases. But still, you have fever, a lot of body aches, muscle aches, fatigue," he said.

In Detroit - Dr. Fatin Sahhar with DMC Grand River Health Center says she’s still seeing lingering respiratory viruses

"Most patients tested positive for flu, some of them for rhinovirus," Sahhar said.

Others are still presenting with RSV and the common cold. Allergies are a problem, too. Sahhar says for some patients symptoms have been mild, while for others they've been more severe problems.

"From simple runny nose, congestion to asthma," she said.

She says to know your allergy and asthma triggers, limit your exposure, and seek medication attention early on.

"Don't wait. Don't wait until your symptoms get worse," Sahhar said.

Especially if you suffer from asthma.

Another common theme I heard was the warning to wear helmets, and protective gear as we return to outdoor activities like bike riding, skateboarding, and other types of warm-weather fun, and sunscreen to fight harmful spring and summer sun.