Is it a cold or winter allergies?

By January 13, 2016Blog

Woman using tissue to combat winter cold or allergiesThe weather has turned from chilly to cold; so, it’s no surprise you find yourself sniffing and sneezing. It’s at this time of year that the common cold is aggressively making its rounds. But before you reach for the cough syrup, ask yourself – is it a cold or could you be suffering from an airborne allergy?

It’s not always easy to tell, particularly at this time of year. On average people spend around 90% of their time indoors and when the weather is cold it can be much more. As we avoid the elements with windows closed and heaters on, we’re more likely to be irritated by indoor allergens.

More time spent indoors during winter exposes people to allergens that cause many of the same symptoms as a cold. Dust, mold and pet dander in the air may trigger an allergic reaction. The confusing part is telling the difference between these very similar symptoms, because your immune system mistakenly identifies the allergen as harmful to your body and tries to fight it off.

Differences between cold and allergy symptoms:

Symptom Winter Allergy   Cold
Fever NO YES
Itchy Eyes YES NO
Yellow/green Discharge NO YES
Runny Nose (thin and colorless) YES NO
Nausea YES YES
Last more than a week YES NO
Body Ache NO YES

So is it a cold or winter or allergies?

If you find you have a cold, over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers will be your best bet.  If you have allergies you might want to try an over-the-counter antihistamine but only if you know your allergen trigger. Whatever you do, don’t take antibiotics as they work against bacteria, and bacteria do not cause colds or allergies.

Another way to combat indoor allergens is to reduce them at the source. So that means you need to start your ‘spring cleaning’ a little early. Who’s excited?!

Tips for reducing indoor allergens:

  • Clean the carpet – Your carpet and rugs can trap large amounts of in allergens within the fibers
  • Keep humidity levels low – By using a dehumidifier
  • Use allergen proof bedding covers – Make sure to wash all bedding a couch covers weekly
  • Use a HEPA vacuum –   HEPA vacuums suck up smaller particles leaving you with fewer allergens
  • Find pets a new home – In the case of animal dander allergies, consider removing a pet from the home or keeping the pet outdoors. And keep pets out of the bedroom
  • Rid the house of cockroaches – their bodies leave behind allergens
  • Remove visible mold with a bleach solution
  • Consider an air purifier

Keeping your indoor allergens under control in the winter months will make life more comfortable for anyone who’s allergic to them. As an added plus you will have a very clean house! 2 Birds 1 stone.

If you suffer from seasonal or winter allergies your local Urgent Care can accurately identify what is causing your symptoms, and help relieve and alleviate those symptoms.  

There are many treatment plans for allergies that can range from the use of prescription allergy medication to even corticosteroid injections (if all of the allergen reduction tips can’t cut it).

Our doctors and providers at Mississippi Urgent Care can help create a treatment plan to relieve and alleviate your allergy symptoms today!