The arrival of spring triggers a stuffy nose, sneezing, and coughing in many people. Are these symptoms caused by a late-winter cold or spring allergies? Treatment differs for each condition, so it’s beneficial to learn what sets allergies and the common cold apart.
Common Cold Symptoms
A cold is a viral upper respiratory infection. The average adult catches two or three colds per year, while kids may develop more frequent infections. Symptoms appear gradually one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus and typically linger for three to 10 days. These symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Head congestion
- Mild body aches or headache
- Low-grade fever
- Loss of appetite
- Clear nasal discharge that becomes thick and yellow as the infection runs its course
- General unwell feeling
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergies often appear in the spring and fall due to heightened allergens in the air, including mold and pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. The body interprets these harmful substances as invaders and releases histamines to defend against them. This causes allergy symptoms, which may come and go suddenly based on exposure to allergens in different locations. If the allergens are ever-present, symptoms may last weeks or even months.
The signs you’re experiencing seasonal allergies include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
- Itchy nose and throat
- Wheezing or shortness of breath (a sign that allergies have progressed to asthma)
Common Cold Treatment
There is no cure for the common cold, so treatment aims to help you feel better and fight off the virus faster. Here’s how to relieve your cold symptoms:
- Stay home for work or school and rest in bed
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmed, to loosen congestion
- Run a humidifier
- Use a saline nasal rinse
- Gargle with saltwater to soothe a sore throat
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medicine, decongestant nasal spray, or cough syrup, depending on your symptoms
Seasonal Allergy Treatment
You can combat allergy symptoms in three ways:
- Avoid allergens: Avoidance methods for seasonal allergies include limiting your time outdoors when pollen counts are high, showering after being outside, and keeping the windows closed.
- Take medicine: Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal spray steroids can relieve allergy symptoms, especially when taken regularly during allergy season.
- Get allergy shots: Also known as immunotherapy, this route may be necessary when avoidance measures and medications prove ineffective.
Whether it’s a cold or allergies, there’s no need to continue suffering. If the at-home treatments listed above aren’t enough to alleviate your symptoms, visit Total Point Urgent Care. We have 12 locations across Texas and provide walk-in treatment six days a week for non-emergency conditions like allergies, colds, sinus infections, and asthma. Choose us as a cost-effective alternative to the emergency room! Visit a location near you today or contact us online to ask questions.