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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is it Fall Allergies or a Cold?

Fall Allergies or a Cold?
The cooler temperatures have arrived and you aren’t feeling too well. You can’t stop sneezing, sniffing and coughing?

So, what’s the deal? Is it allergies? Are you sick? Should you be scheduling an appointment with your doctor?

Before picking up the phone, it’s important to know the difference between the two. The common cold is typically the result of a viral respiratory tract infection, but an allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment.

“You should make an appointment to see your doctor for any cold symptoms that last more than 1-2 weeks, or for any persistent allergy symptoms that do not respond to over-the-counter antihistamines,” said Lauren Strohm, DO, of Penn Medicine Valley Forge.

Contrary to what many think, spring is not the only allergy-prone season. As the temperatures begin to dip, many experience the effects of allergies similar to how they would in the spring.

Ragweed is the biggest culprit as it can travel hundreds of miles in the wind. While the yellow-flowering weed usually starts releasing pollen in August, it can last well into September and October. Nearly three-quarters of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed.

Another fall trigger is mold. Many think of mold growing in their basement or bathroom, but mold spores also love outdoor wet spots such as piles of damp leaves.

Dust mites tend to get overlooked this time of the year, but can be allergy trigger for many. Although they are more common during the humid summer months, they can get mixed into the air when the individuals begin to use their heat.

Tips to Tell the Difference 

  • Do you have a fever? If yes, you are dealing with something more than allergies. A fever is never a feature of an allergy.
  • Itchiness and watery eyes? Although not always the case, this usually points to an allergy rather than a cold.
  • A cold is usually self limiting (symptoms cease in a predictable manner), but an allergy needs interventions and treatment.
  • Are others around you sick? A cold is contagious, while an allergy is not.
  • How long have you not been feeling yourself? Colds can last a long time, usually between 1-3 weeks. Allergies, though, can stick around for a few days or months if an individual is continuously exposed to the allergen.
  • When did the symptoms start? Symptoms of a cold take a few days to develop after the viral infection, but allergic symptoms begin immediately after the exposure.
Need to see a physician?
Schedule an appointment today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I have allergies. Yucky allergies!

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