A good guideline for distinguishing between a cold and an allergy is time.
Colds get better over time, generally in 7 to 10 days, while allergic
reactions can last for months.
This time of year often brings with it sniffles, sneezes and coughing.
How your physician treats the ailment depends on the source of the symptoms.
In the case of a cold, infection or flu, the foreign bodies are harmful
bacteria or viruses. The immune system strikes at these invaders, which
have the potential to harm the body.
With allergies, the body mistakes a harmless material, such as pollen
or dust, for a dangerous intruder. It then launches an attack that results
in symptoms associated with allergies.
While colds are usually just inconvenient, allergies can be serious and
sometimes lead to chronic respiratory diseases, like asthma. Patient education
and adequate management of the allergy, through consultation with an ear,
nose and throat or allergy physician, may control allergic diseases. The
physician may be able to diagnose the trigger of the allergy and provide
information or medication to prevent a reaction. An allergy is a lifelong
condition that your allergist can control but very rarely cure. Your physician
can educate you on the best way to decrease the symptoms of this chronic disease.
What are some common differences between a cold and an allergy?
- No Fever
- No General Aches or Pains
- Sore Throat Sometimes
- Sometimes Cough
- Chest Discomfort Rare
- Longstanding Symptoms
- Rare Fever
- Slight Aches and Pains
- Sore Throat Common
- Cough Common, Hacking
- Chest Discomfort Mild to Moderate
- Last Days to Weeks
Although there is no cure for allergies, there are many treatment options.
Once the source of the allergy is identified, a physician can determine
the most appropriate treatment.
Treatment may involve avoiding the allergen that causes the reaction and
also may include medication that:
- Reduces inflammation
- Opens breathing passages and reduces mucus in lungs
- Reverses life-threatening symptoms
- Prevents the onset of allergy symptoms
- Decreases the symptoms and prevents infections, like sinusitis.
Allergy shots or allergy drops (placed underneath the tongue) reduce symptoms
or the frequency of reactions and are another potential treatment.
For colds, a nutritious diet and time are often the best treatments. Medications
that may be used to treat cold-like symptoms include:
Medications that may be used to treat both allergies and colds include:
- Cough suppressants
- Ibuprofen, acetaminophen and other pain relievers
- Antibiotics (if bacterial infection suspected).
- Nasal sprays
- Eye drops
- Allergy shots or drops.
Once your allergy or cold triggers are identified, prevention measures
should also focus on reducing exposure, when possible, to the allergens,
viruses or bacteria that cause your symptoms.
In order to accurately diagnose your condition and plan for appropriate
treatment, it is important for you to consult with your health care provider.
North Oaks ENT Physician Jacques Peltier, MD, also is available to treat
patients of all ages with allergies and ear, nose and throat conditions,
including those that may require surgical intervention. For more information, click
Appointments with Dr. Peltier are available at two convenient North Oaks
North Oaks ENT & Allergy Clinic | (985) 230-2630
15813 Paul Vega, MD, Dr., Suite 301, Located in North Oaks Clinic Building
North Oaks Multispecialty Clinic | (225) 686-4960
17199 Spring Ranch Rd. in Livingston. Located in the North Oaks-Livingston
Parish Medical Complex