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.
Background On Food Allergies
An allergic reaction occurs when your body mounts an immune response to something that it identifies as harmful. In an allergic reaction to food, your immune system attacks certain proteins in foods, according to MayoClinic.com. The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and eggs. Children may be allergic to milk and wheat, too. Your runny nose and sneezing from food allergies are most likely to occur after you eat one of those foods.
Similar Symptoms But Important Differences
- Eye problems. Pink eye is a possible symptom of COVID-19, and results in red and burning eyes. The itchy and watery eyes caused by allergies is usually mild and bothersome but not painful.
- Lack of energy and fatigue. While some people may feel run down or lack energy during an acute seasonal allergy attack, they are normally able to continue with their everyday activities. Extreme fatigue, to the point where its difficult to get out of bed or take care of basic needs, is much more serious and associated with COVID-19.
- Cough. Some people experience a mild cough along with congestion, runny nose or sneezing when suffering from allergies. If the cough responds to allergy medications, its almost certainly nothing to worry about. However, a cough thats accompanied with a fever or shortness of breath could be a symptom of COVID-19.
- Loss of taste or smell. Seasonal allergies can sometimes affect your sense of taste or smell, but its usually mild or comes and goes along with other symptoms. A sudden and complete loss of taste or smell, especially without accompanying congestion, sneezing, or runny nose, is a recently recognized symptom of COVID-19.
If you have been affected by seasonal allergies in the past, and your symptoms are similar to what youve experienced before, chances are thats what youre dealing with now. And, if your symptoms respond to over-the-counter remedies or medication prescribed for allergies, you can be fairly certain you dont have COVID-19.
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Similar Symptoms Seasonal Allergies Vs Covid
For most people, spring and early summer are when they are likely to be bothered by allergy symptoms. During normal years, allergies are shrugged off as minor annoyances that can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications. But this year, with the threat of coronavirus still a top concern, some symptoms of allergies may be confused with COVID-19. To help you understand what is probably an allergy versus something more serious, this comparison of symptoms may help:
Can Allergic Rhinitis Be Prevented Or Avoided
Allergic rhinitis cannot be prevented. You can help your symptoms by avoiding the things that cause your symptoms, including:
- Keeping windows closed. This is especially important during high-pollen seasons.
- Washing your hands after petting animals.
- Using dust- and mite-proof bedding and mattress covers.
- Wearing glasses outside to protect your eyes.
- Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair and skin.
You can also avoid things that can make your symptoms worse, such as:
- Aerosol sprays.
- Wood smoke.
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What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is caused by the immune system reacting to an allergen as if it were harmful.
This results in cells releasing a number of chemicals that cause the inside layer of your nose to become swollen and too much mucus to be produced.
Common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis include pollen , as well as mould spores, house dust mites, and flakes of skin or droplets of urine or saliva from certain animals.
What Are My Treatment Options For Colds
Unfortunately, there is no cure for a cold virus once youve been infected. The good news is that there are many over-the-counter medications and products that can treat your symptoms. If extra rest, drinking hot fluids, nasal irrigation, and saline gargles and washes are not enough to manage your cold symptoms, you could benefit from:
Always read the Drug Facts label on all types of medications before you take them. Its possible that some active ingredients may be in more than one medicine. Also, please note that young children should not be given certain cough and cold medicines check with your pediatrician before giving any medicine to young children and babies.
Its important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best allergy management strategy, depending on your living and work environment and unique sensitivities. With careful diagnosis and treatment, most people can find a way to manage their allergies successfully. Dont lose heart if youre struggling with allergy symptoms a physician can help you develop a plan to improve your situation. And if you have a cold instead of allergies be encouraged that most cold viruses fully resolve in a week or two, and that rest, fluids, or OTC medications can help you manage your symptoms more comfortably.
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Complications Of Allergic Rhinitis
If you have allergic rhinitis, there’s a risk you could develop further problems.
A blocked or runny nose can result in difficulty sleeping, drowsiness during the daytime, irritability and problems concentrating. Allergic rhinitis can also make symptoms of asthma worse.
The inflammation associated with allergic rhinitis can also sometimes lead to other conditions, such as nasal polyps, sinusitis and middle ear infections. These are described below.
Cleaning Your Nasal Passages
Regularly cleaning your nasal passages with a salt water solution known as nasal douching or irrigation can also help by keeping your nose free of irritants.
You can do this either by using a homemade solution or a solution made with sachets of ingredients bought from a pharmacy.
Small syringes or pots that often look like small horns or teapots are also available to help flush the solution around the inside of your nose.
To make the solution at home, mix half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into a pint of boiled water that’s been left to cool to around body temperature do not attempt to rinse your nose while the water is still hot.
To rinse your nose:
- stand over a sink, cup the palm of one hand and pour a small amount of the solution into it
- sniff the water into one nostril at a time
- repeat this until your nose feels comfortable you may not need to use all of the solution
While you do this, some solution may pass into your throat through the back of your nose. The solution is harmless if swallowed, but try to spit out as much of it as possible.
Nasal irrigation can be carried out as often as necessary, but a fresh solution should be made each time.
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How To Get Your Nose To Stop Running With Allergies
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 442,570 times.
Is pollen, dust, or pet dander getting to you? If you are allergic to any of these allergens, youve probably developed a runny nose. It can be a pain or just plain painful. With care, you can combat your runny nose, dry out your histamine swollen mucus membranes, and return your nose to normal. Once, you’ve dealt with your runny nose, you can then take steps to guard yourself from allergies in the future.
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When I first got diagnosed with asthma it started off as exercised induced but throughout the years it became worse than that. Just a wind would make me feel like I needed to take my inhaler, a change in the weather and I had to take a breathing treatment. It was really hard especially for being an athlete, because you donât want anything holding you back from what you love to do…
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How You Can Tell The Difference Between Allergies Cold Flu And Covid
Eyes watering? Runny nose? Feel like your head is locked in an ever-tighter vice?
Sounds like the start of seasonal allergies, maybe a cold or flu . . . but not COVID-19.
To keep anxiety levels down, and reduce the crush on local healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic, its important to know the difference between seasonal allergies or other illness and the more serious COVID-19.
This novel coronavirus causes a respiratory illness manifested by fever, cough and difficulty breathing, said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, the chief of infectious diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain.
Pay particular attention to that combination of three symptoms. Less frequently, says the World Health Organization, a COVID-19 infection can produce symptoms similar to the flu like aches and pains, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion or diarrhea.
Allergies, unlike coronavirus, do not cause a fever and seldom shortness of breath. Yet the sneezing, runny nose, congestion and itchy, watery eyes are more than an inconvenience. Sometimes allergy sufferers dont know whether theyre suffering from seasonal allergies, a nasty cold or even asthma that might require a doctors attention.
A cold usually reveals itself gradually. The flu can hit like an anvil.
Flu symptoms will permeate the entire body, says Dr. Bieluch.
What Are The Treatments For Allergic Rhinitis
The first and best option is to avoid contact with substances that trigger your nasal allergies . When prevention is not enough, consider using over-the-counter or prescription medicines:
- Antihistamines are taken by mouth or as a nasal spray. They can relieve sneezing and itching in the nose and eyes. They also reduce a runny nose and, to a lesser extent, nasal stuffiness.
- are taken by mouth or as a nasal spray or drops. They help shrink the lining of the nasal passages which relieves nasal stuffiness. These nose drops and sprays should be taken short-term.
- Nasal corticosteroids are used in nasal spray form. They reduce inflammation in the nose and block allergic reactions. They are the most effective medicine type for allergic rhinitis because they can reduce all symptoms, including nasal congestion. Nasal corticosteroids have few side effects.
- Leukotriene receptor antagonists block the action of important chemical messengers other than histamine that are involved in allergic reactions.
- Cromolyn sodium is a nasal spray that blocks the release of chemicals that cause allergy symptoms, including histamine and leukotrienes. This medicine has few side effects, but you must take it four times a day.
Nasal allergy symptoms may disappear completely when the allergen is removed or after the allergy is treated. Talk to your pharmacist and health care provider about what is best for you.
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Triggers And Irritants Which Aggravate Vasomotor Rhinitis
The main trigger for VMR is changes in the weather, and changes in the barometric pressure. You may notice that you get significant nasal congestion or stuff nose when there is a front moving in, with a rain storm or on days with changes in the humidity. This is essentially due to sensitive nerve endings in the nasal passages leading to over reaction that results in swelling of blood vessels. This leads to the congestion, runny nose, and post nasal drip found in VMR.
In addition to changes in the weather, there are several chemicals and smells that serve as irritants and may worsen the symptoms of VMR. In particular, this non-specific reactivity maybe aggravated by some of the following:
1. Highly scented cosmetics such as cologne and perfumes.
2. Cigarette or other types of tobacco smoke.
3. Smoke from fireplaces and environmental smoke such as a forest fire or brush fire.
4. Strongly scented soaps, and shampoos.
5. Room deodorants, paints and varnishes, insecticides, and bug sprays.
6. Plants with a strong fragrance such as roses, violets, lilacs, goldenrods, and crysanthemums.
7. Kerosene, lighter fluid, fuel oil, and gas fumes.
8. Dust particles.
These irritants are not capable of acting as “allergens” or causing “antibodies” like we see with true allergies. The symptoms of vasomotor rhinitis are thus due to a completely different trigger and mechanism than nasal allergies.
What You Can Do To Prevent Winter Allergies
A big problem with winter allergies is that cold-weather lifestyles can turn a simple allergic reaction into something worse, says Dr. Jones.
“People are turning up their heaters, which makes the indoor air even drier,” he says, “and that leads to dry noses, which increases the incidence of nosebleeds and skin cracking which in turn boosts infection risk when someone’s nasal passages are already inflamed from allergies. Jones recommends using nasal saline rinses to lower the risk of contracting a secondary viral infection.
It may not be possible to get rid of winter allergies entirely, but you can reduce exposure to allergens, at least in your own surroundings. Jones, Dr. Rank, and other allergy experts offer these tips for minimizing indoor allergen exposure in winter:
If you’ve done all you can to allergy-proof your home but you still have symptoms, it might not be your fault, Jones adds. Public areas, such as workplaces, can have the same allergy-inducing conditions as your home: dry air, dust, and dust mites. In addition, pet owners often get dander on their clothes and unwittingly transport it into public places. The level of cat dander in public places is high enough to trigger allergy, Jones says.
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Why Do I Sneeze When I Have Pollen In My Nose
Sneezing, also called sternutation, is usually triggered by particles of dust, pollen, animal dander, and the like. Its also a way for your body to expel unwanted germs, which can also irritate your nasal passages and make you want to sneeze. Like blinking or breathing, sneezing is a semiautonomous reflex.
How Do You Get Rid Of Allergies In Your Nose
As with nasal sprays, antihistamines can help reduce the severity of your allergies and dry nose, but you must begin taking them before your allergens are present. Decongestants nasal sprays, pills and nose drops are also helpful, but should only be used for up to three days as they are habit-forming.
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Dealing With Nonallergic Rhinitis
Start by trying to avoid known triggers. If a drug is the culprit, ask your doctor about trying an alternative.
If you cant avoid the trigger, first see whether a daily saline rinseoften applied using tools such as neti pots or bulb syringeshelps ease your symptoms.
You can also consider using a spray that contains the prescription nasal antihistamine azelastine . Steroid sprays can also work well for persistent symptoms.
Why Do I Sneeze And Cough All The Time
You can live your whole life without having any issues with allergies and suddenly develop wheezing, coughing, red eyes, and yup, sneezing thanks to adult-onset seasonal allergies. One sign your sneezing might be due to seasonal allergies: Many people with seasonal allergies have machine gun-style
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What Causes Rhinitis
Irritants or allergens may cause rhinitis. The cells of your body react to these irritants or allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Rhinitis is often a temporary condition. It clears up on its own after a few days for many people. In others, especially those with allergies, rhinitis can be a chronic problem. Chronic means it is almost always present or recurs often. Rhinitis can last for weeks to months with allergen exposure.
When To See Your Gp
Visit your GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.
A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will usually be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may have noticed. If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing.
Read more about the complications of allergic rhinitis
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What Are The Symptoms Of Allergic Rhinitis
In most cases, when you have allergic rhinitis:
- You sneeze again and again, especially after you wake up in the morning.
- You have a runny nose and post-nasal drip. The drainage from a runny nose caused by allergies is usually clear and thin. But it may become thicker and cloudy or yellowish if you get a nasal or sinus infection.
- Your eyes are watery and itchy.
- Your ears, nose, and throat are itchy.