Distinguishing Between a Cold Infection or Allergies

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Are you suffering from a cold or allergies? Many people assume that they are suffering from one of these conditions when they are actually suffering from the other. As a result, they are unable to effectively treat the underlying cause. While colds and allergies have similar symptoms, though, they are two unique conditions that require different forms of treatment. To effectively resolve your symptoms and reduce your recovery time, you should determine which of these two conditions you are suffering from.


What Is a Cold?

Also known as the common cold, a cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract. According to WebMD, there are more than 200 different viruses that can cause a cold infection. Of those 200, the most common is the rhinovirus, which causes roughly half of all cold infections. But whether it’s caused by the rhinovirus or any other virus, colds primarily affect your upper respiratory tract. When you experience a cold, you may develop a runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, green- or yellow-colored mucus and headache. Symptoms usually appear about two or three days after incubation, and they disappear after about a week.

Colds are incredibly common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that colds are responsible for 22 million missed days of school each year. In a typical year, the average child will catch about six to nine colds, while the average adult will catch about three colds. This makes the common cold the most common infectious disease in both the United States as well as the world.


How to Treat a Cold

Treating a cold typically involves rest, hydration and nutrition. While some supplements are touted to shorten the duration of a cold, there’s no evidence indicating that they work. By getting adequate rest and providing your body with the right nutrition (and hydration), you’ll strengthen your immune system so that it can fight off the cold.

When you are sick with a cold, you should stay home until the infection has passed. Colds are easily spread through contact with infected individuals. If you go shopping for new clothes while suffering from a cold, you may expose dozens of other people to the virus. This, of course, is why colds are so common.



What Are Allergies?

Allergies is a group of chronic autoimmune disorders. When someone suffers from an allergy, it means that his or her immune system reacts in abnormal manner towards a foreign substance. The foreign substance is called an “allergen” because it triggers an allergic attack during which symptoms manifest.

The most common type of allergies is nasal allergies. It’s estimated that 50 million people in the United States suffer from nasal allergies. With nasal allergies, symptoms typically occur in the upper respiratory track — just like the symptoms of a cold. Therefore, it’s not always easy to tell which condition you are suffering from. If you suffer from nasal allergies and breathe in tree pollen, plant pollen, mold, chemicals or other substances, you may experience symptoms that resemble a cold.


How to Treat Allergies

Rather than treating allergies, you should try to avoid them. To do so, you must first identify the allergen or allergens that’s responsible for your allergies. Maybe it’s a specific type of plant pollen, or perhaps it’s mold. Once you’ve determined what’s causing your allergies, you can take steps to avoid contact or exposure with the allergen or allergens. If mold is causing your nasal allergies, for example, consider conducting a mold evaluation of your home and eliminating areas where mold is present. If tree allergies are to blame, stay indoors when the pollen count is high.

Additionally, there are drugs that can suppress the symptoms of allergies. Antihistamines are one of the most common types of drugs used to treat allergies. They work by reducing the immune system’s response so that it creates fewer histamines when you are exposed to an allergen. There are also corticosteriods that have a stronger immune system suppression effect, making them recommended for severe allergy cases.


Spotting the Difference Between a Cold and Allergies

There are a few things you can do to spot the difference between a cold and allergies. First, use a thermometer to take your body temperature. Because colds are caused by a virus, they often result in a fever, whereas allergies do not.

Second, pay attention to the duration of your symptoms. With a cold, you can expect the systems to last for about a week, though some colds can linger for up to two weeks. With allergies, your symptoms will persist for as long as you remain exposed to the allergen. If it’s tree or plant pollen, you may experience symptoms for a month or longer if you don’t otherwise avoid the allergen.


If you suffer from mold allergies, contact us today to learn more about our mold sensitivity evaluation test and treatment solutions.

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