Northbrook IL area specialists identify if allergy or common cold is to blame for symptoms
he National Institutes of Health estimates about 80 percent of asthmatics have allergies. Asthma may be triggered by respiratory infections like the common cold. The similarities between allergies and the common cold don’t end there.
As with allergies, when you have a cold you may feel fatigued and frequently have a runny or stuffy nose. Similar symptoms make it difficult to determine whether you have allergies or are suffering from “just a cold.”
Here are some signs that your “cold” may be your body’s response to allergens in your environment:
- Are your eyes itchy, watery? A cold rarely causes these symptoms.
- If have body aches and are feverish, you can probably rule out allergies.
- If your mucus is clear, thin, and watery, you may be allergic.
- Have you had symptoms for longer than two weeks? See Drs. Noga Askenazi, Eugenia Hahn, and Dipika Patel, because most colds last only three to 14 days.
- If you notice the “cold” comes around each spring or fall, you may be allergic to pollen, as plants pollinate during these times, and cold symptoms are usually associated with winter.
Since the causes of colds and allergies are not the same, prevention and treatment also differs. Hundreds of different viruses passed through the air or on contact with an infected person can cause colds. After a few weeks, your immune system fights off the virus.
Since allergies are caused by an overactive immune system mistaking harmless substances as germs, symptoms last as long as you are exposed to that allergen, which commonly includes dust mites, pollen and mold spores. As your body overreacts to these substances, it releases histamine, the same chemical released as your body fights a cold virus.
With allergies, symptoms may happen at once, making you feel miserable. With the common cold, symptoms may cycle from sneezing to coughing to congestion.
Exercise avoidance for both colds and allergies. For example, keep your distance from others with cold symptoms and maintain good hand-washing hygiene to avoid the spread of disease.
For allergies, Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois can help identify the culprit, so you can avoid exposure to the irritating substance.
There is no cure for allergies or the common cold, but Drs. Askenazi, Hahn, and Patel can help ease your symptoms with antihistamines to block the effects of those chemicals released as your body fights the viruses or allergens.
With allergies, immunotherapy involves exposing the body to a small, gradually increasing amount of the trigger substance to help your immune system develop a tolerance to the allergen.
For a cold, all you may need is plenty of rest and fluids, and possibly over the counter medications. If you are unsure whether you have an allergy or a common cold near Northbrook IL, call our Lake Barrington office at 847 888 8802 to schedule an appointment. The sooner our specialists identify what is causing your symptoms, the better you will feel. You will also prevent other conditions, such as sinus or middle ear infections, caused by untreated colds or nasal allergies.