Think You Have a Cold? It Could Be Allergies!

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Man with allergies

Do you consistently get seasonal "colds" in the spring and fall? Are you suffering from sinus issues but can't seem to get over them? Your symptoms may actually be caused by allergies. If you treat your allergies the way you’d treat a cold, you're not going to get better as quickly as you'd like. 

Cold

What most people refer to as a cold is a virus that attacks your immune system. While you can catch a cold any time of the year, they are most prevalent during the winter months. You can catch it by being near a sick person who is sneezing and coughing. Shaking hands, sharing drinks, or just touching objects a sick person has used (such as a pen, a keyboard, or a mouse) will also make it easy for the virus to spread. If people around you are sick, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. 

Typical treatment includes rest and over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and decongestants.  In most cases, a cold is gone within a week or two. Colds that last more than two weeks may be something more serious, or could be allergies. 

Allergies

People often mistake the signs of allergies for a cold. This is because when your body is allergic to something such as dust or pollen, it attacks it in the same way that it would attack germs or viruses. When you are exposed to an allergen, your body releases histamines, which cause sneezing, swollen sinuses, and a runny nose. 

Allergies are extremely common. In fact, more than half of the U.S. population is allergic to something. Some of the most common allergens include dust, pollen, cat dander, ragweed, and some foods. Luckily, allergies are not contagious (though they are often hereditary). Of course, this doesn't make you feel any better if you're sneezing and your eyes are watering for weeks at a time.

Typically, allergy sufferers are most impacted during the spring and fall. Symptoms will last as long as you are continually exposed to the allergen. If you are treating a cold, you probably won't feel the relief you are looking for. If you've had "a cold" for more than 14 days, it may be time for an allergy test.

If you suffer from allergies, a decongestant such as Sudafed or Mucinex and/or an antihistamine like Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec may reduce your symptoms. If these don't work, a visit to FastMed Urgent Care might be in order. We can help you determine what is bothering you. If it's allergies, we can prescribe nasal steroid sprays that will help to relieve your allergy symptoms in no time.

Still Not Sure?

With so much crossover between colds, the flu, sinus problems, and allergy symptoms, it can be hard to determine what treatment you might need. The graphic below should help you narrow things down.

Cold or Allergies? (graphic)

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