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How To Tell The Difference Between Cold And Allergy Symptoms

You Notice A Seasonal Pattern

How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms

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.

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Perform Some Hot Pack

Well, hot pack helps soothe chest congestion and gives immense relief from the hoarse throat. Prepare a hot pack using roasted cloves, cardamom, and fenugreek. The mixture should be warm. Put the mixture in a thin cloth and keep it on your chest and throat for 5-6 mins. Do this process while going to bed at night to get rid of a cough fast.

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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.

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Clinical Contributors To This Story

Parneet Grewal, M.D. contributes to topics such as Family Medicine.

You might expect to have a scratchy throat and a runny nose in the dead of winter, but on a beautiful summers day, these symptoms seem out of place . It is possible to experience the common cold during the warm-weather months, but the symptoms may actually be a sign that you have allergies, not a cold. How can you tell the difference when youre feeling lousy?

Although colds and allergies have some overlapping symptoms, there are reliable ways to tell them apart, including the presence or absence of certain symptoms and the duration of your discomfort, says Parneet Grewal, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group.

Summer colds can be different

Most people who get colds in the winter are infected by common viruses known as rhinoviruses, which are most active during the chillier months. Youre less likely to be exposed to, or become ill from, rhinoviruses when its warm out.

Instead, a different type of virus causes colds more often during the warmer months: Enteroviruses. Theyre less common than rhinoviruses overall, but theyre more prevalent during the summer.

Seasonal allergies can pop up during the summer

Many people with seasonal allergies experience discomfort during the springtime, when trees pollinate. But some people are allergic to grass or ragweed, which can cause allergy symptoms well into the summer.

COVID-19 symptoms mimic some cold and allergy symptoms

How To Treat Cold Sore Pain

Cold Or Allergies Suck!

DIY remedies arent likely to make a cold sore disappear anyfaster. But there are things you can do to ease the pain while youre waitingimpatiently for it to heal.

  • Numb the pain: Over-the-counter pain reliever creams such as lidocaine and benzocaine can numb the burning and ease the discomfort. These are often marketed for dental pain, so look for them in the dental section of the drug store.
  • Moisturize: Keep your lip and mouth area moisturized to prevent the sore from drying out and peeling, Dr. Beers says. But if you use lip balm on an active sore, consider it contaminated. Once youve used it on a cold sore, you should throw it away after the sore is better, Dr. Beers says.
  • Cool it: Using a simple cold compress, like ice or a cold, wet rag, can help reduce pain and redness.
  • Hands off: It can take all your self-control not to play with a cold sore, but try to resist the temptation. Its instinct to pick at it and scrape the peeling skin, but you should let it heal itself, Dr. Beers says.
  • Meanwhile, you dont want to inflict these sores on others. Skip the make-out sessions until youve healed and wash your hands often.

    While cold sores are annoying in adults, the virus can be life-threatening in a baby, so take care to steer clear, Dr. Beers advises: As much as you might want to see your niece or nephew or grandbaby, please dont shower them with kisses if you have an active cold sore.

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    When To See A Doctor

    It is not always easy to tell the difference between a cold and an allergy, so its important to know when to see a healthcare provider. If symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or if they are severe, it may be a good idea to see a doctor.

    Doctors can identify allergy triggers through serum and skin tests. Once a specific allergen has been identified, an appropriate treatment plan is developed.

    Signs Your Cold Symptoms Actually Stem From An Allergy

    If youre coughing and sneezing and have a sore throat, and youre like most people, youre probably confused about what your symptoms mean. Is it a cold? Allergies? Something worse?

    Here at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care, those are some of the most common questions we get. The symptoms of colds and allergies are so similar, its hard to tell the difference.

    Dr. James Lee, our experienced family physician, can help you understand the unique aspects of each so you can know whether your cold symptoms are actually allergy symptoms.

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    Watch Out For Common Triggers

    The season youre in largely dictates what might be causing an attack. For instance, in the late spring and early summer, grass pollen is highest. In late summer and early fall, theres weed pollen to worry about, notes the AAAAI. Mold can peak between July and October. Still, these allergens can be present year-round depending on where you live, making it difficult to understand what youre reacting to.

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    What Should I Do To Protect Myself And Loved Ones

    Cold or Allergies? Symptoms, Duration, & Differences

    In the midst of flu season, doctors recommend getting a flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine, if you havenât already. And, donât let up on what youâve learned during the pandemic: Wash your hands frequently, donât touch your face with your hands, social distance, and wear a mask indoors, even if you are vaccinated, if you are in areas with high rates of transmission, if you or a family member has a weakened immune system, or if it just makes you feel more comfortable.

    According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people might choose to mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.

    More: Stay home, even if you donât know if itâs COVID-19

    People who are at increased risk for severe disease include older adults and those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart conditions, or if they are overweight or obese.

    The CDC also recommends that people with compromised immune systems should wear a mask, social distance, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

    Free Press staff writer Kristen Jordan Shamus contributed to this article.

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    How To Know For Sure If Its A Cold Or Allergies

    There are no tests necessary for the common cold. If you cant diagnose a cold yourself, Dr. Lee can help you come to the right conclusion and make sure you have what you need to reduce your symptoms until your cold goes away.

    Meanwhile, you can treat the cold symptoms you have with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, tea with honey for a sore throat, and staying well hydrated and well rested.

    If you have symptoms of allergies, Dr. Lee can perform a series of skin tests to identify the precise allergen. Once we find the culprit, Dr. Lee develops an immunotherapy treatment to help build your bodys resistance to the allergens so you can eventually overcome your allergies.

    Whether you have a cold, allergies, or any other health concerns, you can count on Dr. Lee and our team here at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care to provide you with a quick and accurate diagnosis so you can get healthy and stay healthy.

    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.

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    Allergies Vs Cold Symptoms: Whats The Difference

    • ENT Institute

    Nowadays, when you or someone you know is sick, theres a level of concern about what it is, whether thats allergies, the common cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or COVID-19. There are distinct differences between each one that you should know so you can stay ahead of whats ailing you. For this blog, were focusing on allergies vs cold symptoms .

    The differences between allergies and the common cold are subtle but can be spotted pretty quickly. The issue with either of these is that if ignored, they can turn into a dangerous sinus infection.

    But lets start with allergy symptoms and go from there.

    Treating The Common Cold

    Allergies or Cold? How to Tell the Difference

    Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since 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:

    • pain relievers, such as or

    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
    • loratadine-pseudoephedrine

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    How Do You Know If Its Allergies Or A Cold

    How you can tell the difference between cold and seasonal allergy symptoms

  • Allergies follow a pattern and symptoms tend to stick around longer.
  • Allergies do not cause fevers.
  • A wet, hacking cough screams cold.
  • Itchy eyes, ears, nose and throat usually signals allergies.
  • Allergies rarely cause sore throats or body aches.
  • When Did You Begin To Feel Unwell

    If you remember being around someone who had an upper respiratory infection a few days before you started feeling ill, you may have caught a viral infection. Viruses are spread by contact with sneezes, coughs, and contaminated surfaces such as door handles. Allergies, on the other hand, can begin immediately after coming in contact with triggers such as pollen. If you think you might be experiencing a seasonal allergy, check the pollen count in your area if levels are high, allergies may be the culprit.

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    Treating Common Colds In Children

    • Use saline solution in the nose to loosen congestion and help children blow their noses. Or, suck out the congestion with a bulb syringe.
    • Try certain home remedies to help relieve your childâs symptoms. For children over age 1 year, a spoonful of honey by mouth may help soothe a sore throat.
    • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as prescribed by your doctor, to treat aches, pain and fever.
    • For children over age 2 years, you can use mentholated ointments on top of the chest to soothe and calm coughs, especially nighttime coughs.
    • For children over age 6 years, you can use a topical decongestant such as nasal spray to help relieve nasal congestion. If used, use at night for no more than 3 days in a row.
    • Learn when to consult your physician if your young baby has common cold symptoms.

    Keep in mind that oral cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under the age of 6 years. âTypically, I try to avoid oral cough and cold medications for children of any age,â says Dr. Lee. âThey are not effective and can have potential side effects, such as elevated blood pressure.â

    If your childâs cold and allergy symptoms last more than two weeks, consult your doctor. If you are concerned your childs symptoms are COVID-19, you should also contact your childs pediatrician. Learn more about allergies vs. COVID-19.

    Notice What Time Of Year It Is

    What is the difference between an allergy and a cold?

    A common allergy for many is hay fever, which is an allergy to plant pollen. It will usually strike from February through June when blooming plants distribute their pollen. But the exact timing can vary depending on when plants bloom and release pollen. To suss out if the pollen counts are high where you live, check out the pollen map on the National Allergy Bureau website.

    If sniffles hit during the wintertime and particularly if people around you have similar symptoms odds are you have a cold or the flu, not allergies, Arthur says.

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    How Can I Tell The Difference Between Covid

    With the easing of restrictions we still need to be diligent in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID. Having said this, we are well into summer allergies and colds. Its good to know and understand the differences.

    There are some symptoms that are similar between these respiratory illnesses. This chart can help you figure out if you may be feeling symptoms of allergies or a respiratory illness like COVID-19. If you have a fever and a cough, please call 811 or your doctor.

    Sample Content. Double-click here to edit.

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    Taking The Right Medication For The Right Illness

    The best thing to do for cold or sinus symptoms during the first seven to 10 days is to treat the symptoms, not the illness. You can do this with medications such as:

    • Cough medicine
    • Pain reliever

    Cold viruses dont respond to antibiotics, so taking them during the first seven days probably wont help. In fact, taking antibiotics when theyre not needed can increase your risk for being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other serious antibiotic related problems.

    After seven to 10 days, when the symptoms are more likely to indicate a sinus infection, it may be time to ask your doctor about antibiotics. However, sinus infections can and do sometimes go away on their own, just like colds. Ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic or if the infection is likely to go away on its own without medication.

    If your symptoms point to allergies, many effective medications are available over the counter to control symptoms, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. These medications work on all sorts of allergies because they suppress the bodys reactions to allergens, rather than treating the specific allergen. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, however, so be cautious of that when taking them. They also do not help stuffiness or pressure symptoms, so adding a decongestant plus a pain reliever as needed can help you ride it out.

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    Exposure To Certain Substances Can Worsen Allergy Symptoms

    Allergy symptoms typically get worse with more frequent exposure to the allergen, and they improve when exposure is reduced. For example, say a child has a dust mite allergy. Theyll likely experience sneezing and nasal congestion while inside their home, but the symptoms will improve after spending time in the backyard, says Dr. Jain. Because of this, allergy symptoms can be intermittent and may vary throughout the day and week.

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