By DR. KAREN LATIMER
Spring is finally here, and while we can look forward to warmer weather and beautiful colors and scents, we also have to contend with pollen. Those of you who suffer with allergies may be able to recognize the symptoms, but during the spring cold viruses are circulating as well.
How can you tell the difference between a cold and allergies?
A cold is contagious and in many cases, you can identify the person who gave it to you.
Cold symptoms occur a few days after exposure to a virus, whereas allergies usually begin immediately after exposure to an allergen.
Colds last anywhere from 3 days to two weeks. Allergies last as long as you are exposed to the allergen. In the case of spring allergies, this can be months.
Even though you can get a cough with an allergy, it is more often a sign of a cold.
A very sore throat is more indicative of a cold.
An itchy, scratchy throat is more likely an allergy symptom, as well as itchy, watery eyes.
A cold can be accompanied by a low-grade fever. A fever is never a symptom of an allergy.
General achiness is common with a cold, but you will not experience this with an allergy.
Fatigue, while possibly present in both colds and allergies, may be more pronounced in the case of a cold.
Consider past history. If you or your child had similar symptoms around this time last year, chances are you are dealing with an allergy. Also, allergies run in families, so a strong family history should have you thinking allergy rather than a cold.
If symptoms are severe or last longer than 2 weeks, see your doctor. He or she can rule out something more serious, and can help you manage your symptoms so you can enjoy this season of rebirth.