Sniffling, runny nose, sneezing, coughing… are these symptoms that point to you getting a cold? Or could it be allergies? Some of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (also called hay fever) overlap with cold symptoms. Finding out which one you have, a cold or allergic rhinitis, will help you in choosing the best treatment option.
Allergic rhinitis develops when your immune system reacts to something in the environment that is not normally harmful. The substance is known as an allergen, and allergies are your body’s autoimmune response. Attacking the allergen results in increased mucus, watery eyes, sneezing, etc. Some of the more common indoor environmental allergens people often suffer from include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
The common cold also involves increased mucus, and can include sneezing and coughing. If you get a sore throat, you probably have a cold. If your eyes or skin are itchy, you likely have allergic rhinitis.
The best way to treat a cold is rest and fluids. Colds are caused by viruses, and there really is no good cure, other than rest and time until the virus passes through your system. Decongestants or cough medicine can help relieve symptoms in the meantime, but it is important to stay hydrated and avoid overexerting yourself while your immune system fights off the virus. While hay fever will normally respond to antihistamines, you should consult an allergy specialist if your symptoms do not get better.
Your allergy doctor can prescribe stronger medicine than is available over the counter. He or she may recommend steroidal nasal sprays that dry up mucus, or decongestants that will help you breathe more freely. For severe cases, immunotherapy (allergy shots) are a highly-effective option that you can explore with your doctor.
If you have allergic rhinitis that doesn’t respond well to over the counter medication, contact the allergy experts in Tampa, Florida at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay, by calling (813) 971-9743, or use our online appointment request form