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Is It a Cold or Allergies…or Something Else?

Summer is here, so if you’re sneezing, sniffling and have red eyes this summer, you may assume you have a cold.  However, even though it’s no longer spring, allergies are far from over — technically allergy season is year round (it’s just worse for most people in the springtime).  So how do you tell if it’s a cold, allergies, or something else entirely?  The best method of treating an illness is to identify the symptoms in order to identify the most effective treatment.

Allergies

Allergies are caused by an exaggerated response by the immune system to something it identifies as harmful.

Symptoms:  Unfortunately, allergy symptoms are very similar to those of a cold: sneezing, coughing, congestion and red eyes.  However, allergies are not accompanied with a fever or body aches like a cold.

Common treatment:  Prescription nasal sprays and over-the-counter antihistamines. If you have persistent, bad allergies, testing may be an option to narrow down the exact cause in order to treat it specifically.

Colds

There are more than 100 viruses that can cause the common cold; the symptoms depend on which virus you catch.

Symptoms:  Sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, mild body aches, and/or a low grade fever.  Symptoms of a cold can last up to two weeks.

Common treatment:  The best treatment for a cold is rest and drinking lots of fluid.

The Flu

The flu may spike during the winter, but like allergies it can happen at any time during the year.

Symptoms:  The flu has similar symptoms as a cold, but the severity of those symptoms is much worse — think heavy body aches and a higher fever.

Common treatment:  The best treatment is preventative — get a flu shot every year.  However, should you get the flu, be sure to get plenty of rest and fluids.  If you believe you have the flu, CareWell is open seven days a week with extended hours to help you get back on the road to health.

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