Health Tips

Allergies vs. a Cold

When spring rolls around, many doctors brace for an influx of patients with sniffles and sneezes. That’s because not only can spring be a time of heightened cold and flu activity, but also a time of increased pollen levels and seasonal allergy symptoms that affect a large number of people.

Many patients are not aware that they have allergies and may write off common allergy symptoms as cold or sinus infection symptoms. Here are some indicators that may warrant a visit to an allergist.

Cold/Infection symptoms vs. allergy symptoms

While both allergies and colds can cause a runny nose, itchy throat, coughing and sneezing, there are some differences between the two.

Symptoms that usually indicate a cold/infection:

Symptoms that usually indicate allergies:

If most of your symptoms fall under the allergies category, you may want to consider visiting an allergist.

“Another indicator that you may have allergies and not a cold is the duration of symptoms. If your symptoms have lasted longer than several weeks, allergies may be to blame,” said Dr. Aishah Ali, an allergy and immunology specialist.

What to expect

During your first appointment, your allergist will look at your symptom history, your overall health and ask about symptoms you’ve experienced in the past that may have been caused by allergies.

If appropriate, he or she might recommend an allergy test for some of the most common triggers, such as pollen (trees, grass, weeds), dust mites, pet dander and mold.

If you test positive for allergies, your doctor will set up a personalized treatment plan to tackle your symptoms. Common treatment methods include medications, allergen avoidance and immunotherapy (allergy shots).

If you think you may have allergies, visit an allergist to learn how to best control your symptoms.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.