Winter is finally in the rearview mirror, the sun is shining, and we all plan to be outside. The only negative to this cabin fever we all share is the runny nose, scratchy throats, and cloudy feeling that can be attested to one of two phenomena: allergies or a cold. Unfortunately, with allergies being so unpredictable, changing in symptoms and severity yearly, it can be difficult to deduce whether the discomfort you are feeling is, in fact, allergies or a common cold.
Treating colds and allergies are two different methods of action; choosing the wrong treatment can be the difference between relief and continuous discomfort. It is essential to know the difference to treat yourself effectively and efficiently. According to the CDC, nearly a quarter of US adults have seasonal allergies, and the typical adult battles two or three colds a year, mainly between winter and spring. In a discussion about colds Dr. Yu, a pediatric allergist-immunologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told the New York Times a definite red flag in cataloging your symptoms is a fever as they do not occur with common allergies. Another flag pointing toward a cold is body aches if you’re feeling run down. It’s more likely a cold or another viral infection like Covid-19. On the flip side, a telltale sign you have allergies is a runny nose ft. clear mucus. Another clear allergy indicator is itchiness around your eyes, nose, and ears.
Now for every “clear sign” and “red flag,” so to speak, there are gray areas in symptoms. For instance, sneezing could indicate either a cold or allergies. But on the other hand, coughing and soreness in your throat can also come from colds and allergies. Thus it is important to consider symptoms outside sneezing, sore throats, and coughing when deducing colds vs. allergies.
So you have considered your ailments and have decided it’s most likely allergies you are feeling. The Mayo clinic advises antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy), and loratadine (Claritin, Alavert). The Mayo Clinic also mentions using nasal sprays and rinsing your sinuses with saline solution to flush out all the congestion. If the usual suspects like Allegra and sinus cleansing aren’t doing the job, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor to develop a different action plan.
The Mayo Clinic recommends remaining hydrated, resting, and even gargling salt water for your common cold. Other common treatments at home include utilizing sore throat remedies like lozenges, ice chips, sipping hold liquids, and an under-the-weather home classic: honey.
Knowing your symptoms gives you the power to squash them in the bud and start enjoying the change in climate quicker.