Jul 30, 2014
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What’s Going Around: Fall Colds & Allergies

What’s Going Around: Fall Colds & Allergies

After a long summer, the cooler temperatures of autumn will be welcomed by many.  As the school routine returns and the days get shorter, the breezes and sneezes of autumn reappear.  Fall is a time when many people deal with the symptoms of colds or allergies.

Common colds are caused by viruses. Because colds occur more commonly during the fall and winter, many believe that changes in temperature cause colds.  However, a connection has never been shown to exist between changes in air temperature and catching a cold. 

An allergic reaction occurs when your body comes into contact with a foreign substance, called an allergen (pollen, bee venom, etc.).  Your body identifies this substance as harmful, even when it isn’t.  Then, when you come into contact with that allergen again, your body will react to it causing allergy symptoms.  Not all individuals respond the same way to the same allergen.

The symptoms of a cold and allergies can be similar.  Both can present symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, coughing, and sneezing.  However, symptoms of colds and allergies differ in two respects: generally, a fever is common with a cold, while allergy sufferers will typically not have a fever.  Also, allergy symptoms may last up to an entire season, while a cold will generally last no longer than seven to fourteen days.  If cold symptoms persist, evaluation by a medical professional is recommended to determine if there is a more serious problem.

Determining the best treatment depends on whether an individual has cold or allergy symptoms. Since neither of these illnesses is bacterial, antibiotics are not an appropriate treatment. The usual treatment for a cold is to get plenty of rest and drink fluids.  For allergy sufferers, over-the-counter allergy medications may help ease mild allergy symptoms. If those medications are not effective, consult your physician to see what other options are available.

Colds and allergies are common ailments that pop up during the autumn months.  Knowing the specific symptoms and treatments for each will help you and your family deal with them appropriately, quickly and easily. 

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