Cold vs Allergy? How Can You Tell?
Stuffy nose? Headache? Cough? Fatigued? You must have caught a cold, or is it because the trees are starting to bud? If you’re not sure whether you have a cold or allergy, you’re not alone. In fact, often the symptoms are so similar, the symptoms subside without ever getting the correct answer.
Cold and allergy symptoms are very similar, and especially in early spring both are very common. The air still has a snap of cold and when outside you’re often caught without a coat that’s warm enough. Yet common allergens begin to appear in the form of buds on trees, fragrant early flowers and mold on leaves recently uncovered by the snow thaw. Even spring cleaning can stir up dust allergies.
With the symptoms being so similar, how can you know whether you have a cold or allergic reaction so you can treat it properly? There are a few subtle differences, as this Symptom Checker from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2008) describes:
Is it a cold or allergy? Cold vs Allergy
|General aches and pains||Sometimes||Never|
How to Treat a Cold:
- Decongestants will reduce the swelling in your mucus membranes and allow air to pass easier through your nasal passages
- The pain relief medication ibuprofen is available over the counter. It is an anti-inflammatory and will relieve the aches and pains of your cold as well.
- Drink plenty of fluids, which help flush toxins and restore the body’s fluids lost from the dehydrating affects of decongestants.
- Get plenty of rest while your body combats the cold
- Make sure you take your vitamins to help boost your body’s immune system
How to Treat Your Allergy:
- Prescription Nasal Steroid Sprays decrease allergic and non allergic inflammation in the nose and can be safely used for a long period of time.
- Non-sedating antihistamines can reduce allergic nasal congestion when used alone or with nasal spray. They treat the body’s natural reaction when it comes in contact with an allergen by blocking histamine which causes swelling and congestion.
- Allergy Injections are for patients with long-standing allergies (that may be identified through skin or blood tests). Allergy injections, also called immunotherapy, gradually reduce symptoms and the need for medication.
Whether it’s a cold or allergies, it is important to treat your symptoms because they can lead to more serious conditions such as sinus and ear infections. If your symptoms persist, see your doctor. Your physician will determine whether or not you need an antibiotic prescription or another medical treatment. Plus, if you’re not sure if it’s an allergy, he or she can recommend you to an allergist who will work with you to pinpoint what it is you are allergic to and start you on the appropriate therapy.
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