your "common cold" has been hanging around for more
than a week, it may not be a cold at all. It might actually be
an allergy disguised as a cold.
Stanley Goldstein, director of Allergy and Asthma Care of Long
Island, in New York, said fall and winter allergies are just
as common as spring and summer allergies. Whatís different
about the allergies this time of year, he added, is that most
people simply donít know they have them.
just donít bring patients out of the woodwork, complaining
because many of them are just living with them,"
Goldstein said. "If you walk around congested very early
in life, you donít realize what it means to feel
people may simply think that theyíre getting a cold ó over
and over and over again, said Tonya Winders, president and
chief executive officer of the Allergy & Asthma Network
Mothers of Asthmatics, based in Virginia.
most confusing aspect of telling the difference is that the
symptoms are so similar," Winders said.
allergies and common colds both can produce coughs, sneezing,
a stuffy nose and a runny nose, she said.
there are a few differences.
should last less than 7 to 10 days, while seasonal allergies
tend to last through the entire season. The allergy usually
will start at the onset of the season, while the cold could
begin at any time, Winders said.
ways to tell them apart would be that a cold may start with a
sore throat and may be accompanied by a low-grade fever or
body aches, while recurrent "colds" that arenít
associated with a fever would be allergies, said Dr. Cristina
Porch-Curren, allergist with Coastal Allergy Care in
eyes or an itchy nose ó or both ó also would be hints that
the ailment actually may be an allergy, said Dr. Timothy
Craig, professor of medicine and pediatrics at Penn State
University College of Medicine.
seasonal distribution, sneezing and itchy eyes often point
toward allergies," Craig said.
suggests seeing a primary care physician who can point you in
the right direction, and if over-the-counter allergy
medications donít work, then an allergist can do a full
work-up to figure out exactly which allergies are triggering a
those who havenít had allergies in the past could be subject
to new fall or winter allergies, Winders said.
know that allergies change and develop over time because theyíre
driven by exposure, so you have to be exposed to the allergen
more than one time to have that allergy," she said.
or relocation also can play a role in later allergy onsets
that cause more than 50 million Americans to suffer from some
form of allergies, and that number has been increasing since
the 1980s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
fall, the most common allergy is hay fever, which is caused by
ragweed, while winter allergies tend to be to mold, dust,
mites and animals because people spend more time inside in
small spaces, Winders said, adding that these allergies are
more common in the parts of the United States that have more
dramatic seasonal differentials, such as the Northeast and
thereís a very significant fall and a defined winter, youíll
see more seasonal allergies," Winders said.