Though many people would like to simply enjoy the summer heat, some will end up with a summer cold. Additionally, many will end up dealing with one or more of many different allergies. Both are common, but there are enough similarities in the symptoms that it can be hard to tell the difference.
Dr. Rogers Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care have years of experience offering treatment for colds, allergies, and a number of other conditions.
Understanding the common cold
An ailment with which most of us will be familiar, a variety of different rhinoviruses are often responsible for the common cold. It is commonly responsible for upper respiratory tract infections, but can be bad enough to cause problems in the lower respiratory tract. Though some think colds are relegated to cold weather, you can catch them all year round, including the summer. In most cases it starts with sinus and throat issues like sore throat, runny or dry nose, and sneezing. Bad colds can also include hoarseness, body aches, fever, and vomiting. They usually last about 7-10 days.
Allergies, on the other hand, are the body’s response to foreign substances called allergens. They usually aren’t harmful, but can come from a variety of things like food, pollen dust, pet dander, and many others. The response is a result of the immune system reacting to these substances as a danger and attempting to expel them. Allergies frequently cause the typical sneezing, sinus congestion, and other symptoms called allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. Different allergies can present in many ways, depending on the specific allergens that affect you.
How to tell them apart
Both colds and allergies can cause sinus congestion, runny nose, fatigue, and post nasal drip at the beginning. However, since colds are viruses, they only last for a little over a week at most, with bad colds sometimes lasting longer. Allergic reactions can last as long as you’re around whatever triggers the response. Colds (especially bad colds) are also more like to cause things allergic reactions do not, like fever, sweating, and coughing. Colds may also fluctuate in intensity as the cold starts and ends, but most allergies are more consistent in their effects on the body.
How to prevent and treat them
Preventing colds can be done in a number of ways, including covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing to avoid spreading to others, washing hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, and keeping your hands from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Preventing allergic reactions means avoiding the source of the reaction.
Treatment for colds often consists of bed rest, over-the-counter medications, and plenty of liquids until the cold passes. Humidifiers can help alleviate sinus congestion and other related issues. Treatment for allergies can consist of antihistamines, immunotherapy (allergy shots), and avoiding or removing the allergic source.
If you think you may be dealing with either a cold or an allergy, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care to help you get better.