Allergies or Just a Cold
Stuffy nose, congestion, sneezes…how can you tell if you are suffering from allergies or if it’s just a cold?
Allergies and the common cold can have many similar symptoms, including runny nose, watery eyes, cough and congestion, so it can be difficult to know whether symptoms are due to an allergic reaction or if you are battling a virus.
A cold is a virus that must run its course. Over-the-counter medications, approved by your primary care physician, may help with some symptoms, but the cold will generally stick around for 7-10 days. Allergies, on the other hand, will continue as long as there is contact with the substance causing the allergic reaction.
How to Tell if it is Allergies or a Cold?
- Are your cold symptoms lingering for more than 2 weeks?
- Do you have a chronic (continual) cough?
- Do you have a runny nose? Is the mucus clear (not yellow or green)?
- Do you have a persistent stuffy nose or consistent breathing through the mouth?
- Are your eyes red and itchy?
- Does your child have dark circles under his/her eyes?
If you or your child have one or more of the above symptoms, it is possible you are suffering from allergies. Common allergens include food, medications, pet dander, mold, dust and pollen. Depending on the type of allergy, your child may experience respiratory symptoms, skin irritations or digestive problems. Nasal allergies can make your child more susceptible to ear and sinus infections and act as a trigger for asthma.
If you cannot determine the source of the allergy, an allergist can perform a battery of skin tests to determine the offending allergens. It is important to remember that one’s sensitivity to an allergen can change with time.
If you do have an allergy, your physician will discuss how you can decrease your exposure to the allergen.
How to Reduce Allergens in Your Home
- Vacuum your home at least once a week and consider purchasing a HEPA vacuum.
- Wash bedding in hot water to remove dust and kill bacteria.
- Replace furnace and air filters every 1-2 months during peak allergy seasons.
- Have pets bathed regularly to keep pet dander at a minimum.
- Wash blankets, stuffed animals and other toys regularly to remove dust and bacteria.
If your child seems to be suffering from cold symptoms that just do not seem to go away, contact your child’s physician.