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Cold Flu and Allergy Symptoms Know the Difference
You might be one of the millions who dread the changing seasons because common colds, allergies, and sinus problems can pop up like daisies and dandelionsleaving you sneezing and sniffling. But keeping your family healthy is easy if you start early with the appropriate medicines. Cough drops, nasal sprays, and sore throat sprays can provide immediate relief at the first sign of illness. However, if your symptoms persist, you might be dealing with more serious allergy or sinus problems.
So when the sniffling symptoms hit, how will you know if it’s a cold, allergies, or a sinus problem?
First, ask yourself a few questions:
- How long have you had your cold symptoms? A cold usually lasts about a week to 10 days.
- Do you have a fever? While allergies might produce symptoms such as a low-grade fever, they are never accompanied by a high fever .
- Do you have a sinus headache? Are you sniffling or congested, or do you feel pressure around the eyes? This could be a sign of sinus problems.
Then, check this list of common symptoms and how frequently they occur with common colds, allergies, and sinus problems, according to experts at the Stanford University Medical Center. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your own symptoms to see if you have allergies or sinus problems.
Common Cold, Flu, and Allergy Symptoms
1. Runny nose/sniffling?Its often due to allergies or a cold, and sometimes due to a sinus problem.
Talk With A Doctor Or Clinician To Create A Personalized Treatment Plan
If you arent sure if its a cold or allergies, or if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, its best to connect with a care provider to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
If your allergy symptoms are left untreated, you could become more prone to getting sinus infections or other upper respiratory infections, or may lead to poor asthma control.
Also, a common cold can turn severe. So, if your cold has had you laid up longer than a day or two, get in touch with your doctor.
You have a couple options:
Make an appointment for face-to-face care from a primary care doctor or clinician. Whether you choose a video visit or in-person appointment, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan including connecting you with an allergist or an otolaryngologist if needed.
Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell.;With;Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. Well ask you a few questions, and youll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner. Each visit is just $59 or less, depending on your insurance.
Five Of The Most Common Indoor Molds
Mold illness is the variety of health problems that can occur from any type of mold exposure. Although a mold allergy is the most common problem caused by exposure to mold, mold can cause illness without an allergic reaction. Mold can also cause infections or irritants and toxic reactions. Infections caused by mold can lead to a variety of problems from flu-like symptoms to skin infections and even pneumonia.
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Allergies Do Not Cause Fevers
People often wonder if allergies can cause a fever. The answer is no. Allergies cannot cause a fever, though you could have an allergy flare at the same time youre experiencing a fever from another infection.
With a cold, your temperature can run warmer, but typically it will be less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sinus Infection Outlook And Recovery
Acute sinusitis usually goes away within one to two weeks with proper care and medication. Chronic sinusitis is more severe and may require seeing a specialist or having long-term treatment to address the cause of the constant infections.
Chronic sinusitis can last for three or more months. Good hygiene, keeping your sinuses moist and clear, and treating symptoms immediately can help shorten the course of the infection.
Many treatments and procedures exist for both acute and chronic cases. Even if you experience multiple acute episodes or chronic sinusitis, seeing a doctor or specialist can greatly improve your outlook after these infections.
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Spring Is Here 5 Things Allergy Sufferers Need To Know
Due to global climate changes,;allergists warn that spring allergy season continues to worsen each year. ;Dr. Jigisha Morosky, an allergist/immunologist with Starling Physicians, addresses the most common questions about seasonal allergies.
How do you know if it is a cold, allergy or COVID?
Sometimes it is difficult for people to determine if sniffles, sneezes, sore throat and coughs are caused by allergies, a cold or even sinusitis. Dr. Morosky explains that;nasal allergy symptoms and common cold symptoms are essentially identical. Variables we examine are exposure to an allergen, like pollen or a pet, the duration of symptoms months versus 1 to 2 weeks, and if there is improvement while taking allergy medications.
Spring allergies can cause itchy water eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, sneezing, coughing and even hives.;The symptoms of a cold are often characterized by runny nose, sore throat and cough.; Patients with severe seasonal allergies can feel very fatigued and have low grade fever making the distinction even harder.
Acute sinusitis is characterized by a stuffy or runny nose accompanied by pain in the forehead and/or over the cheeks.; Often both the common cold and allergies can cause swelling of the nasal passages, which prevent the sinuses from draining, then this can lead to sinusitis.;Sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics, however it often recurs if due to uncontrolled allergies.
What are best over the counter methods to treat allergies?
Diagnosing Colds And Allergies
You dont need to see your doctor for a cold, but if you do make an appointment, your symptoms will likely be enough for them to confirm your diagnosis.
If your doctor thinks you might have a bacterial infection such as strep throat or pneumonia, you might need other tests such as a throat culture or chest X-ray.
For allergies, you may need to see a primary care doctor, an ear-nose-throat doctor, or an allergist. The doctor will first ask about your symptoms. Severe or life-threatening allergic reactions often require the care of an allergy specialist.
A variety of tests can be used to diagnose allergies. A skin test can be used to determine your allergy triggers. Sometimes primary doctors or allergy specialists may also use blood tests to diagnose allergies depending on your age and other health conditions.
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What’s Making You Sniffle And Sneeze
Youâre sneezing and sniffling, and you feel crummy. Allergies may be your first thought, especially if you have a history of them. An allergy is when your immune system reacts to something harmless, like pollen or pet dander, as if it were a threat. Your body releases chemicals called histamines, which cause things like sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes. But allergies aren’t the only condition that can create these symptoms.
What Are The Most Common Allergy Symptoms Again
With seasonal allergies , the substance that the body commonly reacts to is pollen. But indoor mold, the dander from a cat or dog, cigarette smoke, and dust mites can also trigger symptoms, according to the AAAI. Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
- Itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
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Allergies Have Chronic Symptoms
COVID-19, like the flu or common cold, is an acute illness, meaning people feel fine until symptoms start showing up.
Allergies, on the other hand, are usually chronic, presenting with symptoms off and on for weeks, months, or even years, Dr. David M. Cutler, family medicine physician at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Healthline.
Allergies should not cause a fever or body aches, Arthur said. Generally, no cough unless you have a lot of nasal drainage.
Allergies may also cause wheezing, she added, especially in people with asthma.
Allergy symptoms tend to vary with the environment: worsening with exposure to dust, pollen, or animal dander, whereas cold symptoms tend to persist regardless of time of day, weather, locality, or other environmental factors, Cutler said.
Also, as with COVID-19, Colds are more likely to have generalized symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches, whereas allergies usually affect only the respiratory tract, Cutler said. Allergy symptoms tend to improve with antihistamine and other allergy-specific medication. Colds are more likely to respond to decongestants, acetaminophen, fluids, and rest.
The CDC issued guidance on the differences in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies.
The agency noted that things such as shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, headache, and sore throat can be symptoms of either COVID-19 or allergies.
How To Tell If Your Symptoms Are Due To Allergies
If you think you have allergies, its a good idea to make an appointment with an allergist/immunologist, the type of doctor who treats these conditions. My patients commonly tell me that they didnt realize how miserable their symptoms were until they started medications that allowed them to breathe easier with less congestion or have an improved sense of smell, says Dr. Hui.
To diagnose a patient, the first thing we want to gather is the history so we have a clear understanding of how you feel and what your goals are for this visit, explains Dr. Hui. She asks questions like: What are you experiencing? How long has this been going on? What makes it better or worse? Have you tried anything to treat your symptoms?
Based on the information gathered from talking with you and performing a physical exam, we can actually provide some treatment options without further testing, says Dr. Hui. However, we often do pursue the allergy testing route, as this gives us more specifics.
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How To Deal With Allergies
When it comes to dealing with, especially unknown allergies, it is recommended to avoid self-medicating at all costs. Its important to get tested in order to know what triggers the allergies. Some home remedies may contain the allergens that cause your allergies and it would only worsen the whole situation.
Allergy Symptoms You Need To Stop Ignoring
Take care of your allergies before they take care of you.
Stop for a second to take a look around. No matter where you are right now, odds are that at least one person nearby is dealing with some sort of allergy. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies annually.
But just like any other health condition, it’s not always easy to spot when an allergy attack is happening. Typical symptoms of allergies like a runny nose and watery eyes often get confused with a cold or the flu, and people don’t always know to look out for less common and more serious symptoms like headaches, a swollen tongue, and hearing loss. Herein, we spoke to allergy experts to round up some of the most commonly ignored allergy symptoms that people need to pay attention to.
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Allergies Rarely Cause Sore Throats Or Body Aches
The only ache you may feel with allergies is a headache from all that congestion. Your throat may also feel dry or scratching. But if youre experiencing a sore throat or mild body aches, theyre more likely a sign of a bad cold.
Can allergies cause chills? No. If you have chills, its more likely you have a cold, the flu or another infection .
Despite Symptoms Its Not The Flu
COVID-19 is not the flu.
As one of a class of pathogens known as coronaviruses, its actually more closely related to the common cold than the seasonal flu.
However, despite some overlap, the typical symptoms of COVID-19 are more similar to the flu than the common cold .
The new delta variant of COVID-19, however, may have more cold-like symptoms.
In terms of differentiating between flu and COVID-19, it can be almost impossible to distinguish, Dr. Jake Deutsch, co-founder and clinical director of Cure Urgent Care centers and Specialty Infusion in New York. Thats why people are recommended to have flu vaccinations so it can at least minimize the risk of flu in light of everything else.
Fevers, body aches, coughing, sneezing could all be equally attributed to them both, so it really means that if theres a concern for flu, theres a concern for COVID-19, Deutsch said.
If you have a mild case of COVID-19, the flu, or a cold, treatment is geared toward management of symptoms, said Cutler.
Generally, acetaminophen is recommended for fevers, he said. Cough drops and cough syrups can also help keep mucus secretions thinner. If there is associated nasal congestion, antihistamines may be useful.
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How To Treat Allergy Symptoms
Theres an important step when trying to manage the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Decreasing exposure to the allergens youre allergic to is an important action that people often dont think about, says Dr. Hui. For example, keeping the windows of your home and car closed when the pollen counts are high or showering after outdoor activities.
When it comes to medications, there are many that can treat your symptoms. Intranasal steroid spraysfor example, Flonase or Nasacortare available over-the-counter or by prescription, and studies have shown great benefit when used consistently; the spray reduces inflammation and thus decreases symptoms like sneezing and congestion, says Dr. Hui.
Oral antihistaminesfor example, Zyrtec or Allegraare also particularly helpful when someone has hives. Finally, allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots, often provide long term benefit and are tailored towards the allergens youre specifically allergic to.
Can A Cold Or Flu Cause Allergies
An allergy is an inflammatory immune response to specific foods or something in the environment, known as an allergen. Colds and flu are caused by viruses or bacteria. Therefore, a cold or flu cannot cause an allergy.
Sometimes, allergies can lead to a sinus infection, which may develop into a fever. Sinus infections are the result of excess mucus and debris getting trapped in the air-filled sinus passages. However, the infection develops due to the bacteria or viruses present rather than the allergens.
Knowing what a person is allergic to can help in treating the allergies. A person can be allergic to several allergens at once. Some of the key steps to reducing allergy symptoms include:
A person with severe allergies may benefit from immunotherapy. This approach involves injecting increasing amounts of allergens in the body to de-sensitize the bodys immune response. A doctor must prescribe these injections.
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Can You Get Body Aches With Pollen Allergies
Allergies can produce a variety of symptoms, but one thing everyone affected with allergies experiences is discomfort. People can be allergic to pollen, pet dander, dust, foods and plants. Pollen allergies most commonly cause nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat and itchy eyes. Less frequent symptoms include hives, itchy skin, cough, mood changes and body aches.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Do Allergies Cause A Fever
Seasonal allergies should not cause a fever, as a high temperature often signals your body is fighting a bacterial or viral infection, says Jessica Hui, M.D., allergy and immunology physician at National Jewish Health in Denver. Many of us have heard someone sneeze and then say, Its just my allergies when theyre actually sick with the common cold.
Symptoms of the common cold, flu, or COVID-19 are often confused with seasonal allergies, as theres a lot of overlap with symptoms. But if there is an associated feverwhen your temperature hits 100.4 degrees or moreits important to think beyond allergies, because it may be an illness that is contagious and warrants a sick day, explains Dr. Hui.
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Can I Prevent Myself From Getting Allergy Symptoms
In terms of preventing allergic reactions, the first step is to find out what youre allergic to. Doctors who specialize in allergy and immunology can help patients discover what might be causing their specific allergies with skin, patch, and blood tests. For example, sometimes its difficult to know if your allergy trigger is pollen, pets, mold spores, or a combination of different triggers. Once you have an understanding of your allergy trigger, its best to avoid contact with them as much as possible. Depending on the category of allergy that you have, you may want to try the following: