Do I Have a Cold or Hay Fever?

There are very similar symptoms when it comes to having a cold or allergies. However, knowing the difference between the two conditions is essential to choosing the right course of treatment. Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, can cause you to have itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose and other symptoms that easily resemble the symptoms of the common cold. However, here are a few tips on how to tell the difference.

The Common Cold

These two bothersome conditions cause several of the same symptoms. These symptoms include coughing and a stuffed-up nose. However, they certainly have different causes. With the common cold, the symptoms are brought up because your immune system is launching a counter attack on an invading virus. These viruses are contagious and can be picked up from someone else through sneezes, coughs or physical contact of any sort.

These symptoms should only last a maximum of a few weeks, until your body is able to completely fend off the virus.

Hay Fever (Seasonal Allergies)

However, your seasonal allergies have an entirely different cause. Everyday contaminants such as dust, dander and pollen are mistaken for invading germs and your body’s natural reaction is to attack them. During this attack on harmless allergens, your body releases a chemical called a histamine – inducing undesirable symptoms that are similar to the common cold (coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes). This is why doctors will recommend allergy-sufferers to use an anti-histamine medication to counteract the body’s natural response.

Unlike the common cold, allergies are not contagious because there is no virus to spread to others. Allergies tend to be a genetic reaction to everyday airborne allergens.

Trait Cold Allergy
How long do symptoms last? 3-14 days Days to months – as long as your body is exposed to the allergen causing the reaction.
When would I get symptoms? Colds are most common in the winter but if you are exposed to the virus, contraction is possible at any time. Any time of year – although the allergens may be seasonal
Incubation Periods Symptoms will take a few days to show up after being infected. Symptoms will begin immediately after exposure to the triggering allergen.

 

Beating the Flu Blues

So you got your flu shot. You’re always careful about washing your hands. You take good care of your health generally, eating well and getting plenty of exercise and sleep.

And you still got the flu.

It’s not fun, but with the right care, you can get through this bump in the road. Here are a few tips to help make your time under the weather a little more pleasant – and with any luck, a little shorter as well.

Get Plenty of Rest

There’s no magic cure for the flu, but rest is the closest thing we have to it. If you can, take a few days off from school or work. Park yourself on the couch and just relax. Think of this as an opportunity to finish reading that book, binge-watch your favorite show, or simply recover from the holidays.

Don’t Spread the Misery!

Whenever you interact with others, try not to get them sick. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Use hand sanitizer often, and disinfect all surfaces as frequently as you can. And when all else fails, simply keep your distance from other people.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Don’t worry – you can drink far more than just water. Most fruit juices and sports drinks are a great way to get more fluids. Pick your favorite flavor and enjoy. The old standby, chicken noodle soup, is also a great way to increase your fluid intake, although other broth-based soups are just as good.

Use Over-the-Counter Remedies

If you have a fever, medicines containing ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen can help you find relief. An expectorant can make it easier to cough up (and get rid of) that nasty mucus. But use caution when treating children and young adults. Don’t give over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to children under 4, and no one under the age of 19 should take aspirin.

Know When to Come to Us

While the flu usually goes away on its own, sometimes medical intervention is necessary. At Immediate Medical Care, we can provide treatment for troubling cold and flu symptoms. Here are a few signs you should come to us right away:

  • Your symptoms get worse or don’t go away.
  • You have a high fever (more than 102F in adults and older children, more than 100.4F in infants younger than 3 months).
  • You experience wheezing, vomiting, or shortness of breath.
  • You have an earache, or fluid drains from your ear.
  • You experience thick mucus that’s yellow or green in color – along with facial or forehead pain – for more than a week.

The flu may not be fun, but it doesn’t have to put a kink in all of your plans. Let us help you beat the flu so you can get back to living your life. If the flu is bothering you, stop by any Immediate Medical Care location today!