Clearing the Air: Is It a Cold or Allergies?

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by LCMC Health Urgent Care

Clearing the Air: Is It a Cold or Allergies?

How to Tell a Cold From A Flu

Spring in South Louisiana means a burst of green, crawfish, festivals and sometimes itchy eyes and a runny nose. Yes, along with all of the goodness of spring, many of us experience allergic rhinitis, which is a fancy name for seasonal allergies. But wait! The common cold exhibits many of the same symptoms and is treated differently. So how can you tell which is which?

First, let’s break down the two. Allergies are your immune system’s reaction to a substance like pollen from plants or pet dander. Upon exposure to these triggers, the immune system releases chemicals called histamines. While intended to fight off perceived intruders, the release of histamines is actually what causes allergy symptoms. A cold is an infection caused by a virus that is often passed along in the air by coughing and sneezing. Because allergies and colds result in similar symptoms, like sniffles and stuffiness, many people get them mixed up. However, knowing the difference between the two can help you get the right treatment, and feel better faster.

We’ll look at the symptoms and treatments of allergies first since they are quite prevalent at this time of year. If you have allergies, your nose is probably running, but your mucus will be clear or watery. It will also stay clear, instead of becoming thick or discolored like it can with a cold. Your eyes will be itchy and watery, and your symptoms will be consistent. While allergies may be intense for the first couple of days, you’ll have the same symptoms day after day. If you have these symptoms for more than a week—even if it seems to tone down a bit, but come back—you are probably suffering from allergies, versus a cold which usually clears up after a week to 10 days. Finally, you might become suspicious of allergies if your symptoms only show up in certain situations. Do you find yourself sneezing only in the spring or fall? Are you miserable after being in a certain place—outside in the back yard, at the park, or Aunt Betty’s house with her three cats, Gypsy, Trixie and Maude?

Colds exhibit some of the same symptoms as allergies, but also come with a cough, low-grade fever, headache, or mild body aches. There are more than 200 cold viruses, and different viruses cause different symptoms. Even so, coughing, a fever, and achiness aren’t problems you usually see with allergies. With a cold, your symptoms may not be consistent. You may start out with a fever and stuffy nose, then move on to experience a sore throat for a few days, or get a cough or sinus pain before getting better. One of the big differences with a cold is that your mucus becomes yellow, green, or thick, as immune cells fight back against the cold virus.

“Many people think they have to suffer through a cold or put up with allergies by taking random medicine to fight it off,” says, LCMC Health Urgent Care Medical Director Patrick Dennis, MD. “Unfortunately, you do have to let a cold run its course, but urgent care facilities can offer direction on the proper medications and treatments to help ease the symptoms of a cold and also provide quicker, temporary relief of allergies.”

Here in the New Orleans area, LCMC Health Urgent Care has three convenient, walk-in clinics to treat you and your family’s cold and allergy symptoms. Our locations in Lakeview (826 Harrison Ave. Ste. A), Gretna (2600 Belle Chase, Hwy B-2), and Luling (107 Maryland Dr.) are open 7 days a week, and no appointment is ever necessary.  Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Our reach also extends to the Covington area with our LCMC Health affiliate Lake Urgent Care Northshore. Like we say, “You can’t schedule your allergies, but we can work around your schedule getting you in and out fast with quick relief.”

When minor illnesses or injuries occur, LCMC Health Urgent Care provides a conve­nient, affordable alternative without appointments or long wait times. In addition to allergies, minor conditions treated include: ear and eye infections, fever, minor cuts that may need stitches, possi­ble broken bones and simple fractures, minor skin infec­tions, severe sore throat, sprains and strains, and vomit­ing and diarrhea. All locations offer modern, state-of-the-art facili­ties with the latest technology including digital X-ray and electronic medical records. LCMC Health Urgent Care is backed by the outstanding resources and reputation of LCMC Health. LCMC Health manages some of the top hospitals in the New Orleans area including Children’s Hospital, Touro, University Medical Center, New Orleans East Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center.

Looking to get answers? Visit any LCMC Health Urgent Care location or check them out in the links below.

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