With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the last thing that you have time for during the holiday season is to be sidetracked by your holiday allergies. While some allergy sufferers may get a break once the weather turns cold, others may see a flare of symptoms that may seem very similar to a common cold. How you are affected will really depend on what you are allergic to. Knowing what to look for, and the best way to treat these symptoms, will have you back caroling in no time.
Is It Allergies Or Just A Common Cold?
Once you start sniffing, and sneezing, your first reaction may be to reach for your favorite cold remedies, but is this really what you need? These medications may not help you if the cause of your symptoms is actually winter allergies, but how do you tell them apart?
There are differences in their symptoms. The National Institute of Health (NIH) explains, while runny, stuffy noses, sneezing, coughing, and even fatigue is very common among both of these, there are some differences. When you have a cold, you often have a sore throat, aches, and pains, and you sometimes run a fever. These symptoms tend to last for approximately 3 to 14 days.
In contrast, when the culprit of your symptoms is winter allergies, you will often experience itchy eyes, not have a fever, and will generally not have aches, or pains. These symptoms will sometimes last the entire winter season, or as long as you are exposed to the allergen.
There are differences in their treatment. For the best results, you will even treat them differently. The main things that you will need to treat your cold are plenty of rest, hydration, and time for it to run its course. Over the counter decongestants may help to dry you up quicker, and a cough suppressant may help you get a good night's sleep, but too much of either one can do you more harm than good.
Allergies may need more intervention in the form of allergy medications. These include antihistamines, decongestants, inhibitors, and various nasal sprays. Severe symptoms may even require that you have allergy shots, or have access to an auto injector at all times.
There are differences in their prevention. When you are trying to prevent yourself from catching the common cold, or sharing the one that you have, you will want to ensure that you keep your hands well washed at all times. You cold is caused by a virus that is spread through germs. Ensuring that you keep your nose and mouth covered while you are coughing and sneezing will keep you from spraying the area around you with droplets of these germs. Ensure that you are wiping down the surfaces of your home with an effective cleaner. The time that cold and flu germs can exist in your home can vary from a few minutes, to a couple of days. It will depend on the surface that they are on.
The easiest way to prevent allergies is to simply avoid the allergen. That is often impossible when it is a common environmental allergen that you are allergic to, but you can take steps to reduce your exposure. This often involves making substantial environmental changes, but if the changes will clear up your symptoms, they are worth it.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to diagnose, or even distinguish between the two, especially during the first week or so. If you have symptoms that persist longer than a common cold should, consult your physician. He may then send you to an allergy doctor to be tested to see if you are allergic to certain allergens. They will be not only be able to help pinpoint what you are allergic to, they will be able to give you the best advice as far as the appropriate treatment.