Cough: Allergies Or Covid
A cough can cause anxiety these days. It can be easy to start you thinking the worst. And you only need to clear your throat in the grocery store to draw the attention of other patrons. But a cough is not always an illness.
Yes, allergies can also cause coughing. Along with the typical sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and hives, allergens, especially hay fever allergens, can irritate the throat and lungs and cause us to cough. The allergen causes a post-nasal drip that travels down your throat, causing irritation that can lead to a persistent dry cough. Its still something you should have checked out because a cough could also be a symptom of asthma.
Allergies occur when the body sees a harmless substance, such as pollen or cat dander, as a threat, said Robert Kocur, MD, allergist with OSF HealthCare. In response, the immune system builds antibodies to fight off the threatening substance.
Allergies are some of the most common chronic health conditions in the world and can affect anyone. Generally, allergies are more common in children but can happen at any age. Allergies may also go away and can come back after years of remission.
Could It Be A Cold Or Allergies
Like flu and COVID-19, colds are also caused by viruses and can be passed to others.
Symptoms of a cold tend to be mild. You may have a runny nose, cough, congestion, and sore throat. But you wont usually have the aches and fever that are common with COVID-19 and flu. Often, youll feel better in a couple of days.
Theres no cure for the common cold. Typical treatments include rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines. Some complementary treatments may help with cold symptoms, too. Taking honey may help with nighttime cough for children over 1 year old. Rinsing your nose and sinuses can help with congestion. You can use a neti pot or other nasal rinsing device. Be sure to only use water thats been properly processed, such as distilled or boiled water, not tap water. Nasal rinses can bring relief for both cold and allergies.
Allergies can cause a runny nose and sneezing. But theyre not contagious. If your eyes, nose, or ears itch, that also could be an allergy.
Exposure to things like dust, pets, and tree or grass pollen can trigger allergies, which are caused by the immune systemThe system that protects your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats. overreacting.
Allergy symptoms tend to stop when youre no longer exposed to the cause. Unless you have asthma, allergies typically do not cause breathing problems. Allergies can be treated with drugs like antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroids.
How Do Allergy And Covid
Some of the most common allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, congestion or runny nose. Common COVID-19 symptoms include fever and chills, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or small, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms in which both allergies and COVID-19 can have in common include cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, congestion or runny nose.
“While allergy sufferers may have difficulty breathing due to congestion, allergy sufferers without asthma typically won’t have shortness of breath, nor will they have a fever,” says Dr. Barnes. “They also usually experience facial pressure rather than a headache.”
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Will Wearing A Mask Reduce The Spread Of Allergies As Well As Covid
In addition to reducing the transmission of respiratory droplets from individuals who may have COVID-19, wearing a mask may also help filter out some larger pollens, especially if your mask includes a small filter and you wear your mask outdoors, notes Dr. Barnes. Unfortunately, smaller pollens will still likely make their way in, even with a mask on, and will not eliminate the need to use allergy medications.
When Should I Be Concerned
The symptoms of allergy will usually last for a few years or days without any medical treatment. However if you are experiencing any severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and headache, you should immediately consult your doctor and self-isolate yourself. Its very important to reduce the spread of any disease such as COVID 19 or any other infection that you might be carrying. Even though a simple cold or flu can cause these symptoms that we have mentioned earlier, but its very important to keep an eye on the duration of these symptoms. If the symptoms last for more than 10 days or 2 weeks, then you should get yourself tested for COVID 19 to receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
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About Author: David Pruitt
David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelors of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014. An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.
Schedule A Telehealth Visit
Most BCHP pediatricians are now seeing patients remotely using telehealth visits to assess symptoms. In some cases, your child may need to go get a flu or strep test to rule out these other illnesses. COVID-19 tests are still limited, so your pediatrician will advise you on whether your child needs testing. BCHP physicians can also prescribe allergy medications remotely.
Learn more about our telehealth visits.
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Other Possible Causes Of Chronic Cough
A chronic cough may be a sign of a wide range of illnesses and diseases. Some of the most common are:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Some medications such as ACE-inhibitors for blood pressure
- Primary lung disease
- Other causes
You should refer to your GP for a proper evaluation and differential diagnosis of your chronic cough.
Does Everyone With Covid Experience Similar Symptoms
COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some people have mild symptoms, while others have severe illness. People who are fully vaccinated and contract COVID are less likely to experience severe symptoms. Symptoms may occur at different times during the infection, and do not always overlap. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. For some, symptoms can last longer than this period.
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How Can Allergy Symptoms Be Treated By A Doctor
Allergists, like Dr. Kevin Farnam, MD, are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of allergies and asthma. These specially trained clinicians can treat your stubborn allergy symptoms by first, diagnosing, and then prescribing medications that can help.
Many mild allergy cases can be treated without seeing a doctor. When allergies interfere with your day-to-day activities, you can take back control of your life by seeing an allergist.
An allergist can treat all kinds of allergy problems including:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is a reaction that occurs primarily from environmental allergens
- Anaphylaxis is rare and a potentially fatal allergic reaction caused by triggers such as food, a medication, or an insect sting
- Asthma is an allergy symptom that causes muscle spasms in a persons breathing airway that blocks air to the lungs
- Atopic or contact dermatitis are allergies that cause hives or dermatitis on the skin
Visiting an allergist could include:
- A complete history and physical exam
- Allergy testing to see what is causing your symptoms
- Education to help prevent allergies by avoiding them
- Medication to treat symptoms
- Allergy shots to alleviate symptoms
You should see an allergist if your allergies are causing chronic sinus infections, difficulty breathing, or the discomfort of sneezing, wheezing, or other symptoms that disrupt your life.
I Don’t Know If Im Experiencing Allergies Or Covid
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you should get tested. If youâve ruled out COVID-19 with a PCR test and your symptoms continue, check with your healthcare professional to rule out a chest or lung condition. And if that doesnât get you clear answers, consider visiting an allergist or taking an allergy test.
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Ways To Manage Seasonal Allergies At Home
- Have your child wear a hat and sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting in their eyes.
- Remove your childs clothes as soon as they come indoors and wash them to remove allergens.
- Leave shoes at the door so your family doesnt track allergens through your home.
- Wash your childs hands and face as soon as they come in from the outdoors.
Treating The Common Cold
Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since antibiotics only kill bacteria, they wont work on the viruses that cause colds. Still, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms while a cold runs its course.
Cold remedies include:
Cough syrups and OTC medications arent recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays arent recommended for children under age 6.
Ask your doctor before taking any OTC cold medication, especially if you also take prescription medications, have any existing health conditions, or are pregnant.
Dont use cold medications for a long period of time. Using them for extended periods can cause side effects such as rebound congestion.
You can also try home treatments to relieve a cold, such as:
- drinking more fluids like water, juice, and herbal tea
Decongestants come in pills and nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestants such as oxymetazoline can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.
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How To Relieve Your Allergy Symptoms
If youre convinced your cough is a result of allergies, start by making a few changes to decrease your exposure to potentially irritating substances: Keep your windows closed, shower as soon as you come inside after being outdoors, brush your pets after walks, or invest in an air purifier for your home.
OTC medications are also a great starting point, Dr. Bassett says. Oral antihistamines, like Claritin and Allegra, help block the histamines that set off symptoms in the first place. Nasal steroid sprays, like Flonase, can help clear a stuffy nose if youre dealing with that, too.
But the right treatment depends largely on the cause for a cough, Dr. Bassett says. If you dont see any improvement after taking these steps, reach out to an allergist, who can give you a proper diagnosis, help you identify your triggers, and potentially recommend prescription allergy meds or allergy shots.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
COPD includes several lung diseases that can make it harder to breathe, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes and more mucus, both of which make it harder for your lungs to work. COPD is generally caused by long-term exposure to things that irritate the lungs, such as cigarette smoke, but people with asthma can also develop it.
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Here’s One Early Omicron Symptom You Should Watch For As Infections Climb
“They may only feel like they have a cold,” she said. “That’s good because they’re not getting seriously sick, they’re not threatening the healthcare system, but it’s certainly of some concern because they do have the potential to transmit to others.”
Doctors have reported some cases of what’s being called “flurona,” or a dual infection of both COVID and the flu at the same time. But according to Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health, there’s no clear way to tell the difference between COVID or flu – and no real way to tell if you have both.
“We’re making most of those diagnoses clinically,” he said.
In hospital settings, testing “for not just COVID but for the whole respiratory panel” are increasing across the Chicago area, Loafman said, but testing for such cases is only done when a patient is sick enough to need medical care.
While the symptoms are nearly identical, there can be subtle differences, Loafman said.
“One thing is the fever with flu, with influenza, tends to be a little higher, but that’s subtle,” he said. “So 101, 102 fever can happen with COVID, the fever can get a little higher with flu but it can also be low-grade. So other than that, you know, coughs, headaches, stuffy nose… congestion, some shortness of breath – those are all very, very common for both flu and COVID and I think for most of us, we wouldn’t really be able to tell the difference.”
Can Allergies Cause A Cough
Yes, and you can blame it on your immune system. When your body mistakes a substance like pollen or mold as a harmful invader, it sets off an intense response to try and flush it out, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . During this process, your cells release histamine and other chemicals, which triggers an allergic reaction. Cue the cold-like symptoms, including a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and coughing.
Allergy coughs are typically caused by swelling or irritation of the airways, the AAAI says. And, if you develop post-nasal dripwhen the mucus hanging out in your sinuses trickles down the back of your throatthat can also cause a cough, Dr. Bassett says.
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Are There Home Remedies To Help With Cough
There are several home remedies you can try which may help with easing your persistent cough.
A warm drink of honey and lemon can reduce the irritation at the back of your throat and ease your cough, even if only temporarily. The lemon acts as a disinfectant to prevent any infections from developing or worsening your conditionKeeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water is important. This will not only help to prevent your throat from becoming dry or irritated, but also flush out any pollen which has lodged in your throat and paletteAvoid dry or smoky atmospheres, and if possible, avoid going outside at times when the pollen count is high.
How Do I Know My Cough Is From A Cold
You know how allergy coughs are typically on the drier side? Coughs from colds tend to be on the wetter side .
Coughs that come along with a cold usually come along with stuffiness, along with postnasal drip , which can cause a sore throat or chest discomfort. A low-grade fever may also signal a cold instead of allergies.
Colds aren’t as immediate as allergies. Instead, they tend to develop over the course of a few days, says Dr. Bryson.
You can try a few different things to help relieve a cough. Decongestants can work for, well, congestion. And ingredients like dextromethorphan can can help ease the coughing itself. Just make sure you take any products as-directed.
It should be said, however, that a dry cough isn’t always allergies, just like a wet cough isn’t always a cold. Allergies can plague your nose, for example, causing post-nasal drip , while mild colds might not leave you stuffed up enough to produce any phlegm.
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An Introduction To Cough And Seasonal Allergies
A persistent cough can be one of the most irritating symptoms of seasonal allergies, particularly if it is persistent. These coughs are usually dry and caused by pollen irritating the back of the throat or air passages, triggering the natural body reaction of coughing to clear the irritant.
Coughs associated with seasonal allergies may also be caused by what is known as the postnasal drip. When pollen irritates the nasal passages, excessive fluid is produced by the inflamed membranes. This builds up and drops down the throat, irritating it, giving rise to a dry cough.
Allergic Bronchitis Vs Acute Bronchitis
Bronchitis may be caused by allergies or by an infection and its main symptom is coughing. Germs are the of cause acute bronchitis, which usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks conversely, chronic allergic bronchitis may last several weeks or months.
With bronchitis there is also mucus production, which is clear or whitish when its chronic or due to allergies, while it is green or yellow when it is due to an infection. Moreover, acute bronchitis generally causes fever too, which is not present in chronic or allergic bronchitis.
Chronic allergic bronchitis may be caused by the exposure to allergens like pollen and dust, and may worsen with pollution chronic cough may also have other causes.
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Why Do Allergies Cause Coughing Throat Itching And Cough
Allergic cough is usually caused by swelling or irritation of the airways. Irritation if often caused by what is known as postnasal drip: nasal secretions due to the allergy drip down the throat causing irritation of both the throat and the larynx and a tickling feeling which in turn causes the cough. Although allergies are usually worse during the day when it is more likely to be in contact with allergens, postnasal drip may be worse at night due to the position of the body: by lying down, due to gravity and the anatomy of the nose, its easier for liquids to drip into the throat and cause the itching.
Can Allergies Cause Sore Throat
Sore throat and allergies often go together to compound the misery of people living with allergies. Typically, an environmental allergen causes nasal congestion and sinus drainage down the back of the throat, making it scratchy or painful. This irritation can cause coughing and throat irritation or even trouble speaking.
Some of the most common allergens that cause a sore throat include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Pet dander, particularly dog and cat fur
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