Is it allergies or a cold?

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 8:15 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Cooler temperatures are moving into our area - the changing seasons could have some people feeling a little under the weather.

So, how do you know if you have allergies or a cold?

Dr. Mike Polcari is an allergist at the Alabama Allergy Center.

He said that’s the million-dollar question because allergies and colds often feel the same as they’re coming on, but he said the main symptom that distinguishes the two is itchiness.

Dr. Polcari said if your nose and eyes are red and itchy, you’re most likely dealing with allergies.

But if you have a fever and body aches, you probably have a cold.

He also said symptoms that suddenly worsen can also indicate that you have a cold, not allergies.

Doctors admit this can be a confusing time for allergy sufferers because this is peak time for ragweed, and more people are dealing with indoor allergies like dust and pet dander as they head indoors to get out of the cold.

Dr. Polcari recommends using a nasal spray first to give you the most local treatment for your symptoms, but other over the counter antihistamines work well too.

“So, like for the people who are…who know they have fall allergies, I would start doing that stuff now. Don’t wait for it to get bad next week because by then it’s going to be harder for you to control. Do it once a day now, and then if you have a problem next week you can up it all to twice a day until it gets better,” Dr. Polcari explained.

He added that how you take that nasal spray can make all the difference as well.

He recommends leaning forward and aiming the spray to the side of your nose helps.

But he said do not take a deep sniff in, because the medicine will end up at the back of your throat, which is not where you want it to go.

And if you’ve tried a nasal spray and a tablet and you’re still not getting any relief, he said that’s when you need to see a doctor.

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