How To Tell If A Cough Is From A Cold Allergies Or Asthma
Colds are very common. Most of us can expect to experience colds three or four times a year, and school-age children can get even more. Allergies are also very common, with 50 million people in America alone having them and around 8% of us experiencing seasonal allergies like hay fever. While asthma isnt as common, it is something that many people are living with.;
All three of these conditions list a cough as a primary symptom. This cough may be dry or chesty. It may be your first symptom or something that develops later on. It might come and go, or it could be a constant. Coughs range from mild, and completely manageable, to more severe. But, most coughs are easy to treat, as long as you understand the root cause. So, how do you know whether your cough is being caused by a cold, allergies, or asthma?
Often, the best way to figure out the root cause of your cough is to take a look at your other symptoms, which may be different.;
How To Treat Allergies And A Cold
Allergies are caused by your body’s immune system responding to a commonplace trigger, like pollen or cat dander. To fight off the trigger, your immune system releases chemicals called histamines that cause an allergic reaction.
To treat allergies, you’ll need to either avoid the trigger altogether or take medications, like antihistamines, to counteract your immune system’s response. Antihistamines help by blocking the effect of histamines, hence the term antihistamine. This, in turn, helps relieve your symptoms.
“Some people need to stay on antihistamines long term if they have year-round allergies,” Arthur adds.
A cold is caused by a virus. There’s no cure that can treat the virus, but there are medications that can relieve your symptoms. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce your fever, while decongestants will reduce congestion. Get rest and drink a lot of fluids.
Dont Ignore Allergy Symptoms
No matter how you treat your allergies, do something: Not treating a case of hay fever can lead to sinus and ear problems, and make asthma symptoms worse, explains Berger. People with nasal allergies have difficulty concentrating, and one study even showed they have a lower quality of life than people who have hypertension or diabetes. So you need to make sure you take care of them.
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Keep Your Asthma In Check
While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath have been symptoms associated with coronavirus, it can also be signs of asthma that can flare up with the allergy season. If you dont have a fever present with these symptoms, asthma could be the culprit.
People with asthma need to stay on top of their treatment, says Dr. Benninger, especially since people with respiratory issues are at a higher risk of potentially severe illness from coronavirus. Whether its inhalers or nasal sprays, its important to be up to date on their medication and proper usage.;
Dr. Benninger also recommends starting allergy medications early in the allergy season rather than waiting for the worst part.
If you can prevent the symptoms from worsening, then youre much more likely to have less difficulty when you get to the time of the season when allergies tend to get out of control, he says.
Clear Signs You Have Seasonal Allergies
Dont confuse allergies with a head cold.
For some people, just the thought of being outside during spring or summer makes them want to sneeze.;
Some people love spring and summer: Blooming flowers, warm sunshine and chirping birds are a welcome arrival for many people after the dark and cold winter months. For about 8% of American adults, though, the change of seasons spells misery.;
Those 20 million people deal with allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies, a condition caused when your immune system reacts to something in the environment. In most cases, that something is pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. ;
Commonly called hay fever, seasonal allergies actually have nothing to do with hay or fevers. That misnomer comes from a long-gone era when symptoms would strike during hay harvests in late summer and early fall, before medical professionals knew what allergies were.;
Think you might have seasonal allergies? See how your symptoms match up against these four big signs.;
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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.
What Are Colds And Allergies
They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. There are hundreds of different types that can get you sick.
Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system, the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. It’s this response that brings on the classic symptoms like a cough or stuffed up nose.
The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.
It’s a different story with allergies. They’re caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or pollen, for germs and mounts an attack on them.
When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start sneezing and coughing.
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Treating Seasonal Allergies In Children
- Minimize symptoms at home by washing clothes after being outside, vacuuming often and using air filters and purifiers.
- Try a non-sedating oral antihistamine, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Your child should get relief within a day or two.
- If the antihistamine helps, but not much, add a nasal steroid such as over-the-counter Flonase which you spray into the nose. Sometimes you need both antihistamine and nasal spray to control allergies.
- You can also try nasal spray only. If your child gets relief, skip the oral antihistamine.
Seasonal Allergies And Covid
More bad news: There’s a good chance that allergy sufferers will experience worse symptoms than in past years due to record high levels of pollen across the country, notes Dr. Dass. Extra time spent at home sprucing up your space or hanging with your pandemic pets might not help matters either, she adds. “People have had increased indoor allergenic exposure by adopting pets they may be allergic to or increased cleaning leading to subsequent dust mite exposure,” says Dr. Dass. Eek.
There’s also a good chance that this cold and flu season will be particularly rough, as more people return to in-person activities, such as school, work, and traveling. “We have had an increase in the number of cases of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV in the Midwest and Southern states,” says Dr. Dass. “While we had a record low flu season in 2020 due to social distancing, stay at home orders, and masks, this may increase dramatically with less masking, return to work, return to school, and increased travel.”
TL;DR Protecting yourself against all illnesses is especially important, which means getting both a COVID-19 booster shot when you’re eligible .” rel=”nofollow”>about eight monthsafter you’ve received your second dose of an mRNA vaccine) and a flu shot soon. “Because the flu may peak earlier this year, the CDC is recommending that anyone 6 months and older get the flu shot by the end of October,” says Dr. Dass.
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Your Eyes Are Itchy And Watery
While you might notice some redness or discomfort around your eyes when youre sick with a cold, its more likely that allergies are causing eye symptoms like watering and itching, Dr. Rosenstreich says.
Your nose and throat might feel itchy with a cold, says Dr. Metcalfe, but a cold usually doesnt affect the eyes. Allergies may also cause some swelling around the eyes, adds Dr. Parikh.
What’s The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies
When exposed to certain particles such as animal dander, pollen, trees and grasses children may have an allergic response. This occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens, triggering the release of histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream.
This response causes common allergy symptoms, including:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Fever, in some cases
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But Timberlake said that;when you’re trying to figure out what’s ailing you, it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume that it’s a viral infection until proven otherwise.
“I advise people if you have a new runny nose, if you’re newly congested, if you’re having any of those symptoms, it’s probably best at least at the beginning of those symptoms to go ahead and get that COVID test to make sure that we’re not dealing with COVID,” he said.
Timberlake said the flu is expected to pick up this year, especially compared to last season year. Wisconsin’s influenza cases are minimal so far this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.;
“A lot of the precautions that we took from COVID, we really saw a decrease in all respiratory viruses, including influenza,” he said.;
Influenza is;tougher to differentiate from COVID-19;because a lot of the symptoms are the same: fever, chills, muscle aches, runny and congested nose and;coughing.
Prevea Health’s symptom checker for adults and children;identify some subtle differences between influenza and COVID-19, particularly that COVID-19 causes loss of taste or smell and that shortness of breath is rare for those with influenza.;
Additionally, the flu will come on suddenly one to four days after exposure, while COVID-19 typically shows up after five days.;
Do I Have Fall Allergies Or Covid
DENVER Fall is officially here and with it, comes seasonal allergies. From coughing, to sneezing, and even that scratchy throat, how can you tell the difference between your allergies and COVID-19?
The answer might not be as simple as it seems. The easiest way to determine the difference is by getting a COVID-19 test.
According to Dr. Flavia Hoyte, an allergist with National Jewish Health, Most people who have allergies know what their allergies feel like and when they tend to peak.
A fever does not accompany allergies, so if you have one it could be the first sign that you may want to get tested for COVID-19. Experts warn that you can also be sick with COVID-19 and not have a fever, however.
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You Notice A Seasonal Pattern
If youre the type of person who swears they get the same cold every March, it might be time to reconsider. If you notice its seasonal like clockwork, and every spring or fall you get these symptoms, it might be allergy-related, Dr. Parikh says.
That holds true even if your seasonal symptoms occur earlier than you might think of as allergy season, Dr. Rosenstreich says. In the Northeast, for example, most people are not aware of the fact that the trees begin to pollinate even when theres still snow on the ground. Depending on the weather, people can have allergy symptoms in February.
Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies How To Tell The Difference
by Norman Lester, MD, OtolaryngologistSeptember 11, 2017
It can be tough to tell the difference between a cold, a bacterial sinus infection and allergies. In fact, thats probably one of the questions people ask doctors most frequently in this country. Theres a lot of confusion about what the signs are for these conditionsfrom patients and their doctors alike.
Recognizing the variations between these three conditions is important. The treatment strategies for a cold are unlike those for a bacterial sinus infection. And treatment for allergies is different still than treatment for the other two.
Lets go through the symptoms that people often are confused about, as well as the process of deciding which condition a patient may have and what we need to do about it.
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It’s Probably Allergies If:
Your mucus is clear or watery. And it will stay clear, instead of becoming thick or discolored like it can with a cold, says Michael Benninger, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Your eyes are itchy or watery. It’s rare to have itchy eyes when you have a cold.
Your symptoms stay the same. “Allergies may feel extra intense for the first day or 2, but you’ll have the same symptoms day after day,” Benninger says.
You’ve had the sniffles for more than a week. A cold usually clears up in 7 to 10 days, but allergies can last several weeks or longer.
Your symptoms show up only in certain situations. Find yourself sneezing every spring or fall? Those are common times for allergies. Another allergy tip-off: Being in a specific place makes you feel miserable — for example, in a house with a cat.
The Common Cold Versus Covid: A Doctor Explains How To Tell The Difference
For all the fabulous parts of fallcozy sweaters, gorgeous weather, pumpkin flavored everythingthere are some not-so-wonderful things that come with the season. Namely, cold season. Ugh. But while weve never particularly liked having a common cold, weve been especially on edge about that familiar feeling since the advent of COVID-19. Is our runny nose the product of a cold or COVID? How about that nagging cough? Thats why we checked in with Dr. Phillip Kadaj, MD, FACP, internal medicine doctor at JustAnswer, a site that connects users with experts, for his take on how to tell the difference between a cold versus COVID. Heres what you need to know as we transition away from summer and into cold season.
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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 .
Common Symptoms Of Colds Sinus Infections And Allergies
Many people have been told that the following symptoms are signs of a bacterial sinus infection as opposed to a cold:
- Facial pain and headache
- Discolored mucus or sinus drainage
- Severe nasal congestion
But in reality, these symptoms dont help us distinguish one condition from the other, at least in the first week to 10 days. Generally speaking, all of the classic symptoms of a sinus infection can be present in a cold.
If youve had these symptoms for fewer than seven to 10 days, theyre almost certainly signs of a cold virus. When people have these symptoms for more than seven to 10 days without improvement, thats when we start thinking it might be a bacterial sinus infection. It is also very unusual for a cold, or other viral upper respiratory illness, to worsen after five days. This suggests a transition to a bacterial process. This is important because antibiotics should only be used when a bacterial process is suspected.
The symptoms of allergies dont normally include fever or a lot of discolored sinus drainage. Classic allergy symptoms may include:
- Scratchy or low-grade sore throat
Some of these are similar to cold or sinus symptoms. The difference is that allergy symptoms dont follow the course of a cold, which runs through its symptoms as the cold progresses. Allergy symptoms are more consistent than cold symptoms. There is often a pattern to the symptoms related to a change in the indoor or outdoor environment .
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