Do your runny nose and sneezing fits seem to be going on for longer than a typical cold? If so, these symptoms may not belong to a cold but are rather caused by allergies. Understanding the difference between these two conditions can help you seek the right treatment and feel better faster.
Understanding the Difference
A cold is caused by a viral infection while allergies are your immune system’s response to environmental allergies, such as pollen.
Many symptoms are shared between the two, including:
- Eye irritation
- Runny nose
A fever, body aches and a sore throat are common with a viral infection and usually indicate you are sick with a cold. Cold symptoms last for about seven to ten days. If you notice you’ve been suffering for weeks, chances are this is due to allergies.
Some viral infections and bad allergies can even lead to a sinus infection, the symptoms of which can last for months. Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Upper tooth pain
- Bad breath
- Poor sense of smell
- Pain/pressure in the face
- Discolored mucus
How to Treat a Cold
Drinking plenty of water helps loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid drinking coffee, alcohol and caffeinated sodas as they can make your dehydration worse.
Not only is your body tired from fighting a virus, but sleep is when your body works to repair itself. Getting enough sleep is crucial to kick your cold faster.
Chicken soup has been the go-to treatment for colds for generations. Warm liquids can help increase mucus flow and sooth the throat.
Gargle with Saltwater
Dissolve a pinch salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle gently. This can help temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
Visit the Pharmacy
Saline nasal drops and sprays can help relieve congestion and stuffiness. While decongestants, antihistamines and pain relivers won’t shorten the duration of the cold, they can offer some relief.
How to Treat Allergies
The best treatment for allergies is avoidance. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
These drugs block histamine, the compound that is released by your body in response to an allergen. Antihistamines can help calm sneezing, itching, runny nose and hives. They come in a variety of forms.
Nasal sprays can help reduce swelling, which causes a stuffy, runny and itchy nose. Nasal corticosteroids are most effective for nasal allergies.
These drugs reduce stuffiness by reducing the swollen membranes in the nose. Using these drugs for more than three days can actually make your symptoms worse, so be careful.
Available as both an injection and an oral tablet, immunotherapy is the best long-term treatment for allergies. You are given a small amount of what you are allergic to and over time you become less sensitive to it. The process is slow going and takes about three to five years, but the results are well worth the wait.
If you’ve had a runny nose for more than two weeks, contact the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists.