October 12, 2021

How do I know if I have a cold or allergies?

Have you ever wondered how to figure out whether your symptoms are from allergies or a common cold? Understanding more about the signs of both as well as their causes will help to figure out which one you may have. This can be a difficult question to determine, but we have compiled a list of some simple ways to help you figure it out.

Cold vs. Allergies

Common cold

The common cold mainly affects your upper respiratory tract, specifically the throat and nose. Typically, these symptoms will disrupt your life for a week and can linger for up to 10-12 days.

Symptoms of a cold can include:

● Fever

● Sneezing

● Headaches with body aches

● Congestion and coughing

● Achy throat

● Stuffy or runny nose

Sometimes children develop additional symptoms, like:

● Loss of appetite

● Drowsiness

● Ear pain

● Wheezing

● Coughing

Due to the ubiquitous nature of colds, most of the symptoms aren't too serious. But some people have more intense symptoms than others.

One of the key indicators of whether you’re suffering from a cold or allergies is the length of time you’re suffering from symptoms. Colds tend to last about 10 days or less, whereas allergies can last for months if left untreated.

Seasonal Allergies, Allergic Rhinitis, or Hay Fever

Allergic reactions are caused by an adverse reaction of your immune system to certain substances. When your immune system encounters an allergic trigger, known as an allergen, it releases chemicals called histamines. The release of histamines is what causes allergy symptoms.

Allergies and colds share some common symptoms, such as:

● Sneezing

● Coughing

● Sore throat

● Runny nose

● Nasal congestion

● Watery eyes

Allergies can also cause rashes and itchy, watery eyes, but the common cold generally does not.

Every year, more than 50 million Americans are affected by allergies caused by both seasonal and environmental allergens.

Some common allergy triggers are:

● Tree pollens

● Grass pollens

● Weed pollens

● Dust mites

● Animal dander or saliva

● Mold

● Foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs

Treatment for Colds vs. Allergies

Over the counter decongestants, cough syrups and cold medicines work for cold treatment since colds tend to be relatively short lived and resolve in less than two weeks. However over the counter antihistamines and nasal sprays are not a good long-term solution for allergies.

Whether you’re treating a cold or allergies, the medicines that are sold over the counter are used to treat the symptoms and not the source of the problem. Colds are caused by viruses that will run their course and go away on their own. Immunotherapy, the non-pharmaceutical process of slowly introducing the problematic allergen into the body, is the only way allergies will subside and go away long term.

What kinds of immunotherapy are available for treating allergies?

Immunotherapy options offered at Aspire Allergy & Sinus comes in three forms:

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots can be used to treat seasonal and environmental allergies like molds, pollen, dust, and animal dander. Allergy shots are most popular with adult patients, as most allergists will not offer allergy shots to children under the age of five.

The initial phase of allergy shot treatment begins with an escalating dose of allergens with each shot. The patient will then stay on a maintenance injection every week for a year. After the first year, injections can be spaced to every three or six weeks. There is no universal protocol for ending the injections. The decision to end injection allergy treatment relies on the patient's individual needs, although typically allergy shot therapy takes about five years.

Allergy Drops

Allergy drops slowly introduce the body to problematic allergens by placing three drops under the tongue each day. Each vial of drops lasts three months, and the concentration increases slightly over time, until a maintenance dose is reached. As the concentration increases, the immune system no longer reacts to the presence of the allergen in your environment.

The best part about allergy drops is the convenience: they can be taken at home, on the go, or anywhere in between.

While some allergy drops are sold in supermarket pharmacies, these over the counter solutions are not the same as what is prescribed by an allergist. No two patients are alike, which is why allergy drops at Aspire Allergy & Sinus are specifically compounded by our expert team to tackle your specific allergen profile.

ExACT Immunoplasty

ExACT stands for Expediated Allergy Control Therapy. Immunoplasty is the process of reshaping the immune system to no longer react to certain allergens your body deems a “foreign substance,” therefore producing a reaction.

With ExACT Immunoplasty, the process is shortened to just three injections over the course of eight weeks. The injections are administered via the inguinal lymph node using ultrasonic guidance.  This translates to three in-office visits and your treatment is complete!

What can I do on my own to relieve cold or allergy symptoms?

● Drink plenty fluids to thin out mucus

● Use saline nasal sprays or nasal rinses, like a neti pot

● Gargle with saltwater to relieve a sore throat

● Use a cool-mist humidifier

Still not sure what you're suffering from? Check out our quiz, Is it a Cold or Allergies?

All of our allergy experts at Aspire Allergy & Sinus are ready to work with you and your family to help you find the best solution for your allergy symptoms. Schedule an appointment and come see us today!

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