Allergies or a Cold?

By: Nancy Gonzales

As you take the first step outside of your house, you begin to feel that your throat is itchy and your nose is stuffy.  You infer that you have caught a cold, but have you noticed that spring is coming very soon? Right now trees have begun to bloom already and that means pollen will soon be flying around covering, everything in the way with a coat of a greenish-yellowish fine powder. Many people have already begun to feel the first symptoms, and I might be talking to you. Have you ever wondered what is the difference between having a cold and an allergy? Let me start out by saying that a cold is a virus, and there are 100 different types of cold viruses. The symptoms might vary, but they both share some of the same symptoms. Maybe you have experienced the most common symptoms, like, for example, a sore throat, a cough, and a runny nose. Always keep in mind that if the cold lasts more than a week or two, there might be a risk that the cold has progressed into an infection. Be aware that you can catch a cold anytime of the year. An adult catches about 2 to 3 colds a year, and young children catch more colds in a year because they have weaker immune systems. Since they are viruses, colds themselves are not treatable. There are medications that help alleviate your symptoms. You may have taken cold syrups, decongestant sprays, and even pain relievers. Always remember to drink lots of water, juice, or herbal teas, and try to avoid caffeine. An antibiotic will not help you with a regular cold unless it has progressed to an infection.

Now let’s talk about allergies. An allergy occurs when your body has a reaction to certain substances. Your immune system releases chemicals called histamines, which causes you to experience the allergy symptoms. Some of the symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of a cold. The only difference is that allergies can cause itchy eyes and rashes. Fevers and body aches are not a sign that you may have an allergy. Seasonal allergies are even more common right now. You might be allergic to pollen from the trees, grass, weeds, dust mites, animal dander, mold, or certain foods such as milk, eggs, and tree nuts. It’s easy to tell that you might suffer from allergies instead of a cold by the duration of the symptoms. You might treat the allergies with Allegra, Benadryl, or Zyrtec, which are the most common treatment, but these just help to block histamines reactions to allergens. The other side of these treatments is that they cause drowsiness, but it’s ok as you can consider taking it in the night time. Some people need treatments prescribed to them because they have severe allergies.

Overall, you should keep track starting the first day that you began to feel bad, and, depending on the time period, you may need to go to the doctor just to make sure nothing is getting worse. If it progresses into a stronger allergy or an infection, you can receive a treatment that can fight it off. You may get better in a few days after taking time off from work or school to get in some rest time and after taking the prescribed medicine as directed by the doctor. Be on the lookout this season because everybody is prone to catch something very quickly. Don’t stay home with body aches and high fevers for a week; it might be something that the doctor may need to see ASAP. Head to the doctor if you start to feel strange. So, if you experience an adverse reaction to certain substances, watch out because it’s a sign that the allergies are beginning to act up. Finally, watch out when someone is coughing because you have a high risk of inhaling the germs, which will likely lead to a cold in a few days.

 

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