Is It a Cold or Allergies?

During this time of year, on the border between winter and spring, every allergy sufferer is wondering whether their sneezing and sniffles are due to cough or allergies. This is an important distinction to make, as the treatments for each are vastly different. Below is a guide to help you determine whether your symptoms are caused by a virus or by allergy season.

You Know It’s Allergies if:

Person blowing nose

  • You have itchy, watery eyes. This is a telltale sign of allergies; if you’re experiencing eye discomfort, the rest of your symptoms are likely allergy-related.
  • Your symptoms persist. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for more than a week, you’re probably reacting to an allergen.
  • Symptoms are off and on. If you notice that you only have symptoms at certain times or at certain places, like when you spend time outdoors or in a house with pets, you likely are experiencing allergies.

You Know It’s a Cold if:

  • You have a fever or body aches. A virus causes other symptoms besides just a runny/stuffy nose and sneezing. A persistent cough is also often associated with a cold, but can be allergies if the allergy sufferer has asthma as well.
  • Your symptoms change over time. A cold typically lasts less than a week, with symptoms that may change over the duration of the virus. For example, you may start with body aches and fatigue, then experience a fever and congestion, then have a persistent cough before you feel better.

Treatment Options

If you have allergies, you’ll find short term relief by taking an antihistamine. Antihistamines can both help reduce current symptoms and prevent future symptoms. Most are available as oral pills, but can also be taken as dissolvable tablets, nasal sprays, liquids or eye drops, and many are non-drowsy. Nasal decongestants and anti-inflammatory medications can also be helpful.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the cold. However, there are a variety of over-the-counter solutions that can provide relief. An OTC cold medicine should help reduce congestion and fever. In addition, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest will help you kick the cold more quickly. Vicks VapoRub and cough drops can also help reduce discomfort.

To schedule an appointment with an expert physician, contact Topeka ENT today!

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