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Seasonal Relief

The Difference Between Allergies & A Cold

, by Dr. Jeff Pearl, MD, 2 min reading time


Is this just my allergies?

How many times have you heard or said that when you sneeze, have a runny nose or watery eyes? What are allergies and what is a real cold? A cold is usually caused by a virus such as Rhinovirus which causes inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages. That comes with that an overproduction of fluid…a runny nose. This fluid may drip down the back of your throat and irritate the throat as well as stimulate a cough. Oh, since the nose and eyes are connected by tear ducts don’t forget the itchy eyes that come along with a cold. Did I just describe the same symptoms of allergies? I did. The symptoms are very similar, as are the treatments. However, unlike a cold which last 5-10 days, allergic rhinitis can go on for weeks or months. Since we breathe though our nose it is not surprising that pollens and other allergens that come up in spring start there first. In fact trapping or filtering these things is one of the duties of our nose. As a result there is a multi-billion dollar industry of prescription based nasal steroid sprays- Flonase, Nasocort etc. Recently, one is even available without a prescription now. I can easily say that steroid nasal spray is the top prescription I am asked to write out.

The good news is that these can be effective if used regularly during the high allergen time. However, they are not designed to be used for months straight. They are a steroid and do have some systemic effects. More importantly, the chronic effect on the nasal passages and sinus can be significant in some people, resulting in nasal sores, nasal infections, bleeding from the nose, and eye problems.

There are other natural or non-medication ways to help with allergies including allergic rhinitis. This can help you avoid or at least limit the period of time you use a nasal steroid or anti-histamine. Look for a product containing ingredients such as Butterbur, Nettle, Licorice Root, Valerian, Grape Seed Extract, and Quercetin to name a few. There are many products available, so do your research, read the ingredients, and give it a try.


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