Common Cold or Allergies?

Posted by sueannecampbell in Primary Care with No Comments

Common Cold or Allergies?

Do you have coughs and congestion? Do you get them repeatedly when the snow and frost thaws, or when flowers bloom? If you do then the good news is you don’t have a cold (an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus). The bad news is you probably have seasonal allergies. People who never had allergies can develop them suddenly and mistake them for a common cold. Luckily for most people seasonal allergies are easily treated, and doctors have effective treatments including for the more severe cases of seasonal allergies.

It can be easy to make the mistake of confusing seasonal allergies for a cold. Their symptoms are often similar. Symptoms for both allergies and the cold people develop stuffy noses, coughing, and congestion.  In both cases these symptoms are the result of the immune system attacking things that it feels doesn’t belong in your body.  For the cold, it is the immune system attacking a virus.  For seasonal allergies it is attacking pollen’s dust produced from vegetation.  There are a few differences.  A virus that causes the common cold is not limited based the season for when it interacts with your immune system. Although people are more vulnerable to cold during colder weather, due to the cold temperatures putting more strain on the immune system, making it easier for a cold virus to infect the body. Colds are also contagious. If you hear members of your family or colleagues at work having a cold, chances are it won’t be long until you get a cold.

Seasonal Allergies on the other hand are caused by your immune system overreacting to pollens and plant particles that are in the air in great amounts.  Seasonal allergies are called “seasonal allergies” because these plant particle are in the air in large amounts during spring compared to other seasons.  A person breathes these particles into their body, and their immune system mistakes them for something dangerous.  While cold symptoms serve a purpose as it fights a virus, pollens and plant particles are not necessarily damaging to the body.  All the suffering people go through due to allergies is because the immune system mistakes the pollens as something dangerous.

26 million Americans (8.2 % of the U. S. population) has seasonal allergies.  Most people develop allergies during childhood but sometimes people develop seasonal allergies at the beginning of their middle age.  Someone with no history of allergies or without any history of allergies in his or hers family, can still develop seasonal allergies. While people can be unlucky enough to develop allergies, they are fortunate that treatments for allergies are rather simple and obtainable. Over the counter medication, or special inhalers prescribed by a doctor can stop people from having allergic reactions.  For those that are resistant to these commonly used medications, they may have to see an allergist.

Spring’s beauty brings ugly congestion. .If you are one of 26 million Americans who dread the return of spring and stuffy noses, please consider scheduling an appointment in our office.  Our staff will do their utmost to fulfill your medical needs. Let’s get your sinuses clear, so you can enjoy Michigan’s beautiful spring season.

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