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.
Using EPA air pollution data from a number of different American cities, researchers have established the first link between air pollution and both hypopnea (under breathing) and apnea (pauses in breathing) during sleep. Also studied was the affect that increases of temperature play on these sleeping disorders. Known as sleep disordered breathing (SDB), hypopnea and apnea can cause temporary elevations in blood pressure, lower blood oxygen levels, and can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
In a study that will be published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health have explored the effects of air pollution and temperature increases on sleep apnea and hypopnea episodes. Using data from the EPA monitoring air pollution levels in 7 U.S. cities (Framingham, Minneapolis, New York City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Sacramento and Tucson), they studied it against data from the Sleep Heart Health Study of 6,000 people from 1995 to 1998.
The doctors were looking to find a correlation between “the elevation in ambient air pollution with an increased risk of SDB, nocturnal hypoxia and with reduced sleep quality,” as well as how “seasonal variations in temperature would exert an independent effect on SDB and sleep efficiency.” Using the data, and taking into account certain seasonal variables, they looked at known SDB factors including a patient’s age, gender and whether or not they smoke.
The results were that this is the first study to link air pollution and sleep disordered breathing. Antonella Zanobetti, Ph.D, a researcher on the project stated, ’We found novel evidence for pollution and temperature effects on sleep-disordered breathing.” They also found that increases in sleep apnea or hypopnea “were associated with increases in short-term temperature over all seasons, and with increases in particle pollution levels in the summer months.” The short-term rises in temperature were associated with changes in respiratory disturbances, blood oxygen levels and decreases in sleep efficiency.
Sleep disordered breathing affects nearly 17 percent of the adults in the U.S., and many more aren’t aware they have a problem, since the episodes happen at night. If you feel you might suffer from a sleep apnea or hypopnea, because you’re experiencing some of the daytime symptoms, it is important to get treatment.
To get more information on how to treat sleep apnea or snoring disorder, contact Eos Sleep.
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