Is it a cold or allergies?

It is the time of year when fall allergies and colds tend to overlap. The symptoms of each can be similar and therefore can make it difficult to know how to treat what ails you.

“A cold generally is more of an upper viral infection that affects the nose and throat,” said Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “My patients will tell me that they had a scratchy throat that has gotten better but now their head is stuffy and their nose is running but everything is clear. These are cold-like symptoms.”

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A sinus headache could be symptomatic of allergies.

But the virus that caused your cold may predispose you to bacterial type of infections because of the sinus inflammation and mucus which is not draining appropriately.

“That creates a prime environment for the normal bacteria in our bodies to ‘colonize’ and lead to a bacterial infection,” says Neuzil.

Neuzil says it is common for people to run a fever when experiencing these symptoms. That’s a sure sign of a viral infection or cold.

“If your head is stuffed up and you have a headache but you don’t have fever, then you likely have allergies,” said Neuzil.

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