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May 8, 2014

Healthy Living looks at colds and allergies

It’s dry, it’s windy and the mayflowers are in full bloom. Sounds like a beautiful day in the jewel, but for allergy sufferers – it’s anything but. In the United States, the 2014 allergy season is predicted to be a tough one, as the extended cold has proved better for pollination of plants. But what about us here in Belize? Tonight on Healthy Living, we find out more about what allergy sufferers may expect.

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist/Intensiviist, BMA
“If they sneeze we catch a cold; it’s quite pertinent that statement.”

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
Allergies may not be a life or death scenario but it does negatively affect the quality of life for allergy sufferers. The sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery-eyed nightmare that unfolds from what other consider fresh air is a reality for many in Belize.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

Fernando Cuellar

“We know just by observation that in this time April – May, the winter has gone and the flowering has begun and this so called spring is when we start to see an increase in allergies. It gets dry and dusty, but we should start to see similar patterns of allergies as the US is projecting. Mind you, we don’t have an allergy season as such; we don’t have as much information as it relates to allergies in Belize. Unfortunately, you can develop an allergy to anything at anytime. One of the common things that we see and one of the questions asked is you know, I’ve been exposed to this all my life so how come now. We don’t know the answer to that, but at least the theory is not quite clear, but it does happen that people can suddenly develop an allergy to a certain plant or dust or something else.”


Often people are not even aware that they have developed allergies because the effects can be confused with the symptoms of a common cold.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“They would have runny nose, stuffy nose, headaches, running eyes, watery eyes, itchiness in the nose; erroneously, they would think it’s a cold because an allergy can mimic some of the symptoms of a common cold. Of course when you start having things like a fever or a little generally body ache, muscle ache, joint pains, then you would have to start thinking it is more something related to a common cold, something infectious. Remember an allergy isn’t an infection; it is a different thing where your immune system comes into play. We do have that occasional person who have severe allergies that their quality of life and their production at work is definitely affected—they would have a lot of headaches and runny nose and they would just feel awful. That is the time when we would have to perhaps refer them out of Belize to find an allergy specialist because we don’t have, unfortunately, the resources here in Belize to find out exactly what people are allergic to. It is mainly by observation.”


One of the biggest difference is that colds are contagious allergies are not. The treatment is also different. Allergies are treated with antihistamines; which luckily have improved over the years to reduce the drowsy side effects.


Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“One try to identify first of all your trigger and avoid it of course because it doesn’t matter how much medication we use, if we are exposed to it over and over, our symptoms will persists. So identify, where do I sneeze most, feel stuff most” At home, at work, on the way to work, in the mornings, in the evenings? There is always a pattern to it and like I said, antihistamine.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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