During the fall, allergies are at their peak while cold season is just beginning. If the colder weather has you congested, you might be left wondering if it’s allergies or a cold, but the answer isn’t that simple.
Distinguishing Between Symptoms
Kelly Metz MD, an allergist with Group Health, says it’s hard to distinguish between allergies and a cold.
“Allergy season is a good six weeks, and if you have symptoms that last longer than that and are associated with itching, sneezing, and itchy watery eyes, those are most likely related to allergies,” Dr Metz explains.
If you suffer from a sore throat or nasal congestion, those symptoms can be present with both allergies or a cold, making it harder to distinguish between the two. Dr. Metz points out that even with a cold, you will not see a color change with nasal discharge.
How Should I Treat My Symptoms?
When symptoms begin, start treatment by self-medicating with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec) are all OTC, as well as two nasal steroids (Flonase, Nasacort). “Nasal sprays require everyday use to be helpful, so using them and it not helping in a couple of days does not suggest that it’s not going to be helpful in the future."
If symptoms don't subside, make an appointment with your family physician or allergist for further testing and medication options.