By Robbie Owens

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you’re not sniffling, sneezing and miserable. Just give it time. The Cedar is blooming in North Texas and doctors say between that and an uptick in viral infections, it seems that just about everybody’s got something.

“You try to treat it over the counter,” says Linda Swofford, “but, sometimes you have to give in and say `ok, time for the doctor’.”
Swofford says three days of allergy misery has been more than enough. “You start to feel really bad. The headaches start picking up. They get worse. The draining. The itching. Eyes start itching… total misery.”

Swofford is opting for allergy testing to determine exactly what’s triggering her allergies, before the symptoms worsen. And with so much sniffling, sneezing, misery to share—experts say it’s often easy to confuse allergies with a cold or the flu.

“You feel a low grade fever, sometimes you may even have a temp of more 104, congestion, cough, body aches,” says Qurat Kamili, MD, Medical City Dallas. “It almost feels like you’re coming down with the flu; but, all you’re really having is allergies.”

Dr. Kamili says it’s not our imaginations that just about everyone seems to be coming down with something. “There are viral infections in the air, there’s allergies, it’s a perfect storm.”

So, how can you tell the difference? “If you are sick just for a day or two and your fever is really high… you’re having very bad body aches, you may probably be sick with an infection,” says Dr. Kamili. “But, if you’re having runny nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, cough, post nasal drip, that’s going on for days and weeks? It’s allergies.”

Still, if your holiday plans include travel Dr. Kamili suggests some common sense steps to stay well—putting as much distance as you can between yourself and that sniffling passenger—because you just don’t know if they’re simply uncomfortable with allergies, or contagious.

“At this point, if you’re traveling, there’s no way you’re not going to get exposed to more germs. Routine stuff: Wash your hands. Use a hand sanitizer…and hope for the best.”

For families traveling with small children, it’s a good idea to bring disinfectant wipes to wipe down arm rests and common areas. Also—remember your medications, and make sure emergency prescriptions like inhalers and EpiPens are in carry on luggage. According to Dr. Kamili, it’s best to be prepared and have a plan, because the allergies are here to stay.

“Everybody goes ‘welcome to Texas!’ ”, says Swofford. “And I’m like, ‘I was born and raised in Texas’—something’s changed!”