women wearing face mask

How to Tell the Difference between Asthma and an Allergy Reaction

Asthma and allergies are both common chronic diseases in children, but there are some key differences between the two. Symptoms of asthma and allergies can sometimes overlap, but it’s important to be able to tell them apart. So, how can you tell the difference between asthma and allergies? This article will cover just that.

1. How Frequent Are the Symptoms?

One of the main ways to tell the difference between asthma and allergies is the frequency of symptoms. Allergies are often seasonal, meaning they occur at specific times of the year when the person is exposed to certain triggers. For example, someone with seasonal allergies may only have symptoms during the spring when pollen counts are high. On the other hand, asthma symptoms can occur year-round and may be triggered by various things, such as cold air, exercise, or emotional stress.

2. How Long Do the Symptoms Last?

Another way to tell the difference between asthma and allergies is the duration of symptoms. Allergy symptoms are usually short-lived and go away once the person is no longer exposed to the trigger. Asthma symptoms, however, can last for minutes to hours and may even persist for days.

3. What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of asthma and allergies can also be different. Allergy symptoms are typically limited to the nose and eyes and may include itching, watery eyes, and sneezing. On the other hand, asthma symptoms can affect the entire body and may include shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing.

4. How Do the Symptoms Affect the Person?

Another way to tell the difference between asthma and allergies is how the symptoms affect the person. Allergy symptoms are usually mild and can be easily managed with over-the-counter medications. Asthma symptoms, on the other hand, can be severe and may require prescription medications or even hospitalization.

5. How Do the Attacks Start?

Another way to tell the difference between asthma and allergies is how the attacks start. Allergy attacks often start gradually and may get worse over time. Asthma attacks, on the other hand, often start suddenly and can quickly become severe. They can also be triggered by various things, such as cold air, exercise, or emotional stress.

6. How Is the Throat Affected?

When you have asthma, it can feel like something is stuck in your throat or that your throat is sore and itchy. On the other hand, allergies can cause your throat to feel like it’s closing up. You can usually tell the difference between the two by asking your child to swallow or take a deep breath. With asthma, you’ll usually just feel soreness and itchiness, but with allergies, you may feel like you’re choking.

7. Is the Cough Wet or Dry?

Asthma is a condition in which the airways swell and produce excess mucus, making breathing difficult. Allergies are triggered when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen or pet dander. An asthma cough is typically dry and unproductive, while an allergy cough is wet and pronounced.

8. Is the Person Wheezing?

Asthmatic wheezing is a high-pitched, raspy noise that can sometimes be heard even when the child is not talking. On the other hand, allergic wheezing is more low-pitched and sounds similar to your own heavy breathing during exercise.


It is important to distinguish between asthma and an allergy reaction, as they are two separate conditions. Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways, while an allergy is a reaction to a specific trigger. There are key differences between the two, including the symptoms and the treatment. If you are unsure which condition you have, it is best to consult with a doctor.

Aspen Medical Center provides primary care and urgent care. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM, offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. If you need a primary care physician in Santa Fe, get in touch with us today! 


The Most Common Types of Food Allergies You May Encounter

No one ever wants to experience a food allergy. Besides the fact that it robs the enjoyment from enjoying a certain dessert or delicacy, it also tends to put a person’s health at risk, even turning into a fatal mishap at times.

In order to avoid them, one must be familiar with the most common types of food allergies so that they would know what kind of allergens to avoid and how to mitigate their possible effects. The following are just a few examples.

1. Egg Allergy

Egg allergy, or an allergy to chicken’s eggs, is one of the most common and severe food allergies. This is because it usually causes immediate and severe reactions, which may be life-threatening.

2. Milk Allergy

Another common food allergy is an allergy towards cow’s or goat’s milk. Such are commonly seen in children as their digestive and immune systems are still at a developing stage.

3. Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergy is a common allergen that affects millions of individuals, particularly in the United States. As a matter of fact, they are the most common cause of severe food-allergic reactions, which can be potentially fatal.

4. Shellfish Allergy

Shellfish allergy is an allergy to certain types of seafood. It is usually caused by the protein in the shellfish. Their most common types of allergens are shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops.

5. Soy Allergy

Soy allergy is a common allergen that mainly affects infants, children, and adults. It is a common misconception that only Asians are affected by soy allergy. This is because soy is a staple food in Asia, but that is not the case.

6. Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is one of the most common allergen-related diseases in the United States, affecting over 2.5 million people. But despite its prevalence, it is often a silent case because it produces few or no symptoms at all.

7. Tree Nut Allergy

Tree nut allergy is an allergy to any of the nuts in the trees. They are very common and are not life-threatening as long as the person can avoid coming into contact with them.

8. Sesame Allergy

Sesame allergy is a common allergen primarily seen in those who have a history of it in their family. When this allergen is ingested, reactions that affect the skin and the respiratory system may occur.

9. Sulfite Allergy

A sulfite allergy is a common allergen among those who have asthma, respiratory disorders, and other allergies. Sulfites are used as preservatives to help maintain the quality of certain dried fruits.

10. Corn Allergy

Corn allergy is not as common as the other listed examples. Still, it does occur, especially in those who have a family history of it too.

11. Chili Pepper Allergy

This common allergen can be potentially life-threatening. They are usually used to spice up different types of food, so it can be problematic for those who have this allergy.

12. Mushroom Allergy

A mushroom allergy is a pretty common one, but it is usually not severe. It mainly affects those who have a history of allergies or asthma.


Food allergies can make life difficult for those who are affected by them. But in order to avoid them, one must be aware of the different types of allergens that can trigger the symptoms.

The above examples are the most common ones, but there are a lot more of them. By familiarizing oneself with them, you may definitely avoid them all and live a healthy life.

With all of that being said, if you are looking for an urgent care center in Santa Fe that will tend to your allergies, look no further than our institution here at Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Call us now to book your very first appointment.

asthma in summer

5 Ways to Prevent Asthma Attacks During Summer

Many would agree that summer is the best season of the year. Indeed, there is no experience much like basking in the golden sunlight, swimming in the blue sea, and feeling the warm breeze against your skin. Once the summer season arrives, it feels like anything magical can happen—once you’re in that warm weather state of mind, living feels lighter, easier, and more beautiful!

However, although summer is a universally beloved time, it isn’t a perfect season. During the warmer months, the temperature can get so high you can get dehydrated, sweat sticking to your clothes feels uncomfortable, not to mention the humidity leads to uncomfortable days under the heat.

Warm Weather Woes

With summer comes bright sunshine and luscious evergreen, but what many forget is that the season also brings forth uncomfortable heat and humidity, which is never a good combination for asthmatic individuals. If you think that winter mornings are as bad as they could get, you haven’t experienced the brunt of summer afternoons!

If you have asthma, it’s crucial to watch out for summer, as the increase in humidity can trigger some symptoms. Moreover, the combination of heat and humidity creates a fertile breeding ground for dust mites, mold, and other allergens, which could affect your breathing.

To an asthmatic person, heat and humidity aren’t just irritating—they can trigger asthma symptoms and even cause serious problems, which may require urgent care!

Managing Your Asthma in the Summer

Summer is inevitable, but asthma symptoms are avoidable! If you’re an asthmatic, you can still feel comfortable during the season and prevent summer symptoms from flaring. Just read on below to find out how:

1. Stay Cool

The key to surviving summer as an asthmatic is to avoid inhaling scorching air. Stay away from hot and humid weather by staying indoors and spend the hottest times of the day in an air-conditioned space.

2. Drink Water

Hydration is key to reducing asthma significantly. Water will thin out the mucus, clearing the lungs and making it much easier to breathe. If you can’t afford to spend your day inside the house, remember to bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.

3. Plan and Prepare

The heat won’t be able to catch you off guard if you have a game plan in place! Before going outside, make sure to check the Pollen Count and the Air Quality Health Index in your area to determine whether it’s safe to go outside or not.

If you’re going outdoors, bring everything you need just in case you experience asthma symptoms—always have your reliever medication on hand no matter the weather because you never know what can happen.

4. Know Your Limits

Many asthmatics tend to suffer during the summer because they don’t realize when they’re over-exerting themselves. Exercising and hanging out with friends is alright, as long as you make sure that you know how much you can handle. 

5. Seek Medical Help

Before summer arrives, make sure to have a chat with your doctor about your asthma treatment, especially when you know your asthma is worse during the warmer months. If you’re facing a heatwave and feel like your symptoms can’t be dealt with alone, don’t hesitate to visit a walk-in clinic for urgent care.


Just like other seasons, summer isn’t perfect, and it has its unpleasant characteristics. Some may find it easy to overlook or adapt to the heat and humidity during the warmer months. 

Still, others find it much more challenging to adapt to summer, especially when they have health conditions such as asthma. Keep our tips in mind so that you can survive summer asthma and have and enjoy the season as much as you can!

If you need emergency medical care for your asthma, just visit Aspen Medical Center! You can make an urgent care appointment to decrease wait times or simply walk in to be seen. Our clinic locations in Santa Fe and Espanola are open seven days a week to address your urgent health concerns. Check-in online today!

Man with Seasonal Allergies

What Are Seasonal Allergies

What is an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic. These substances are called allergens. There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, certain foods, as well as pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. These allergens cause the release of histamine in susceptible individuals which leads to allergy symptoms.

What are seasonal allergies?

An allergic reaction to pollen or mold spores is a seasonal allergy. An allergy to pollen is sometimes called “hay fever.” Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels. The most common times of year for seasonal allergies are in spring, summer, and fall.

Juniper allergy in New Mexico

Seasonal allergies are a common problem in many parts of the world and New Mexico is no exception. One of the most common seasonal allergies in New Mexico is the juniper allergy. Twenty to 30 percent of the population is allergic to juniper. Junipers are coniferous plants of the cypress family. Only the male juniper plants produce allergenic pollen. The female plants are fertilized by the male plants and produce berries but not allergies. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, juniper allergy seems to affect people starting in February and can last through March and into April. Other allergies common to the Santa Fe area include allergies to mulberry or pig weed, cedar and chamisa.

Symptoms of allergies

Allergy symptoms vary depending on the severity of your allergies. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • itching (especially the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin)
  • runny nose or post-nasal drip
  • congestion (stuffy nose)
  • headache
  • pressure in the face (e.g. nose or cheeks)
  • watery, red, or swollen eyes
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • sore throat
  • feeling of ear fullness or ears popping
  • hives
  • difficulty smelling

Allergic reactions can also trigger an asthma attack in susceptible individuals. If you think you have allergies and your symptoms are interfering with your life, consider seeing a health care provider to discuss possible allergy medication and treatments.

What can be done to prevent or avoid allergies?

There are measures you can take to minimize or try to prevent exposure to things you are allergic to such as:

  • Keeping windows closed during high-pollen seasons
  • Wash hands after petting animals
  • Using dust and mite-proof bedding and mattress covers
  • Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair or skin
  • Regularly washing bedding and vacuuming your home

Allergy Treatments

There are several allergy medications that can be used to treat allergy symptoms. These include:

  • Antihistamines help reduce sneezing, runny nose, and itching. These come in pill form as well as nasal sprays and some medications require a prescription.
  • Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine relieve the stuffy nose of allergies. Decongestants come in pill form or as a nasal spray. Decongestant nasal sprays are available over the counter but should not be used for more than 3 days in a row as chronic use can cause rebound congestion that makes you even more congested after you stop using them. Using decongestants, particularly in pill form, can raise your blood pressure so you should ask your health care provider before using this type of medication.
  • Nasal steroid sprays are one of the most effective treatments for seasonal allergies. They reduce the reaction in the nasal tissues to inhaled allergens. Some nasal steroids are now available over the counter. You will have to use the nasal spray for 1-2 weeks before getting the full benefit.
  • Eye drops help improve symptoms of irritated, watery, itchy eyes. Some of these medicines are available over the counter and others require a prescription.
  • Allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) are an option for people who try other treatments but continue to have bothersome allergy symptoms. These shots include small amounts of allergen so that your body gradually gets used to the allergen. Over time, your allergy symptoms become less severe.
  • Complementary treatments such as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help control some people’s allergies. They can be particularly helpful for certain symptoms of allergies such as nasal congestion and allergy headaches. If you are interested in acupuncture, come to Aspen Wellness!

At Aspen Medical Center, we provide consultations for allergies as well. We can prescribe allergy medications and if necessary, we can provide allergy specialist referrals. If you are suffering from allergies, come in and see us today!

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

Seasonal Allergies

Overview and Allergy Symptoms

Chamisa, Mulberry, Pig Weed, Cedar and Juniper Allergies


An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic.  These substances are called allergens.  There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, pollen from trees, grass, and weeds like chamisa, mulberry, pig weed, cedar and juniper.

An allergic reaction to pollen is a seasonal allergy and can be called hay fever or allergic rhinitis.  Allergy symptoms include runny nose, itching, and nasal congestion.  Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels.

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