It is THAT season. The time when we assume it’s a cold, but in the back of our minds, know that it could be allergies, even though those beautiful trees and flowers we so wrongly point the finger at aren’t in bloom. So darn it, which is it?!
I spoke to my very good friend (for about a decade now (wow!) and AllerMates medical advisor, Dr. Jennifer Sherman, allergist at Summit Medical Group Allergy (Fair Lawn, NJ) about how to identify which is what?
Q (IS): Dr Sherman, how can we know if we are struggling with a cold or allergies?
A. (DR. S) Here are five things I tell my patients to not only help them determine which but to assist in expediting their recovery:
- Don’t dismiss allergies because of the time of the year. Ragweed and pollen are big in our part of the world during certain months; while indoors, you can expect an uptick in dust mites as we spend more time inside keeping warm.
- If you’ve been sick longer than a week-and-a-half, it’s safe to assume allergies. A cold normally lasts seven to 10 days, so if you’re sneezing and hacking way beyond that, it’s likely an allergy.
- A sore throat is not a symptom of allergies but you can still have one. That’s right; post-nasal drip caused by allergies can make your throat raw and achy.
- Your allergies will NOT trigger a cold, and vice versa. Colds and allergies are two different ailments and should be handled as such.
- Treatment should be sought for allergies, but little can be done about a cold.
Q (IS): So what is the best way to treat a cold?
A. (Dr. S) The best way to beat a cold is to get rest and to drink plenty of fluids. Seek the assistance of over-the-counter meds if you need it.
Dr. S: A final word on allergies…
Know that you can treat your allergy symptoms with over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops, but the best way to beat them is through a visit to your local allergist. He or she can help pinpoint your exact trigger(s) through testing so that you can begin to isolate them and get better. For example, if pollen is your trigger, make sure you keep your windows closed in your home and car and take a shower after coming in from outside.
IS: Interesting about the indoor allergens like dust mites as a possible cause to allergies during the winter. I never really considered that 😮. A special thanks for my favorite allergy expert, Dr. Sherman. I hope these five facts helped dispel any confusion on colds versus allergies and even assists in getting you or your child back to your/their tissue-free self in record time.
Did we miss anything? If you have any comments on the above feel free to share below.
Realizing that there was no clear way to help easily communicate her son’s health concerns, Iris Shamus created AllerMates as a way to educate and alert others about a child's allergy or health concern, while also empowering them & making them feel good and safe. AllerMates is a line of fun alert allergy bracelets, medicine cases, food allergy awareness lunch bags & more, to help bring awareness and keep children safe.