Cold Allergy; Defination, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Cold Allergy; Defination, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Cold Allergy also known as allergic diseases are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These diseases include hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling. Food intolerances and food poisoning are separate conditions.

Summer is the time for sunning, swimming, and grilling — not for being miserable with a cold. Here’s how to tell if you have a summer cold or summer allergies, along with tips to cope.

No matter what the season, a virus finds the weather perfect to invade your respiratory tract — leaving you sneezing, coughing, and down with a cold.

“A cold is a cold is a cold, regardless of when one suffers from it,” says Randy Wexler, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

But in the summer months, when the winter doldrums and associated illnesses seem ages away, it’s easy to write off a cold as just summer allergies. The two are very different conditions — and if you pay close attention to your symptoms, you can usually figure out which is which.

Summer Colds allergy

“A cold is a virus and is different from allergies,” explains Dr. Wexler. “The seasonal difference is due to different virus strains in summer and winter.” So just because most people don’t catch a cold in the summer doesn’t mean that you can’t — or that you didn’t.

“Colds, or upper respiratory infections occur all year round, but are more prevalent in the colder months,” says Nancy Elder, MD, associate professor and director of research in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

“The main difference between summer colds and winter colds is how commonly they occur,” says Dr. Elder. But a summer cold just feels worse somehow — it feels wrong to get a cold in the sunny summer weather. “Because colds occur less often in the summer months, I think some people feel a bit put-upon when they get a summer cold — it just doesn’t seem fair,” Elder adds.

So cold-prevention tips are important year-round, even when the sun is beating down. “The most important precaution is hand-washing, and not sharing cups or utensils,” says Wexler.

Summer Cold Allergies

The common cold and summer allergies have a lot in common. They can both cause:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

“Sometimes, it can be hard to tell them apart, especially if someone has not had problems with allergies previously,” notes Elder. Often, “allergies have more watery, runny nose with lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and can change based on physical location (for example, may get better if someone leaves the outdoors and goes into an air-conditioned, air-filtered house).”

Seasonal allergies, such as allergies to grasses and weeds, also strike about the same time each year (depending on the allergy) and persist throughout allergy season. A simple summer cold usually goes away within about 10 days — with or without common cold treatment — and tends not to cause itchy eyes or nose like allergies do.

Tips to Cope With a Summer Cold

“Treatment for a cold is the same whether summer or winter,” says Wexler. Here are some cold remedies to help you beat a summer cold and get back to enjoying the heat:

  1. Take an over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant to unclog a stuffy nose.
  2. Use a saline spray to irrigate the nose and keep mucus loose.
  3. Take an OTC pain reliever (like Tylenol) to reduce fever and manage pain.
  4. Use cough drops and throat lozenges to manage that pesky dry cough.
  5. Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore throat.
  6. Don’t take an antibiotic.
  7. Allow your body to rest — get plenty of sleep, and avoid strenuous exercise.
  8. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.
  9. Don’t smoke.
  10. Head to the doctor if you don’t get relief within two days, or you are wheezing.

Allergies, on the other hand, may respond best to OTC antihistamines or prescription nasal sprays.

Though these medications may help you feel better and cope with a summer cold, “all medications have side effects, and some people prefer the effects of the URI to the effects of the medications,” says Elder. “These medicines do not make the URI go away any quicker, they just help you breathe a bit easier or have less of a headache while your body is busy fighting off the infection.”

Spring fever

Spring brings warmer weather and longer days, while the autumn ushers in crisp air and pumpkin-spice lattes. But these seasonal changes aren’t welcomed by everyone. For many of us, they’re eclipsed by the itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion of hay fever and other allergies. What to do?

Some allergies are severe and require the attention of a doctor or other health care professional. For milder cases, though, home remedies may provide all the relief you need, with relatively little expense or hassle. Even people with bad allergies who need medication may find these at-home tips helpful for easing symptoms.

Neti pots

They may look exotic, but Neti pots are fast becoming a mainstream remedy for allergies and stuffed-up sinuses. The treatment, which involves rinsing your nasal cavity with a saline solution, flushes out allergens (like pollen) and loosens mucus.

Using a Neti pot is simple. First, fill the pot with a mixture of salt and warm water (you can buy premeasured kits or make your own). Then tilt your head to the side and pour the solution in one nostril until it flows out the other, repeating the process on the opposite side. (Important note: Use boiled or distilled water only, as tap water can introduce potentially dangerous organisms into your system.)

Saline spray

Prepackaged saline nasal sprays function much like Neti pots, but some allergy sufferers may find them easier to use. Sprays deliver saline solution a bit more gently and evenly, whereas pots can sometimes be a little “sloppy,” says Robert Graham, MD, an internist and integrative medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

Saline sprays should provide comparable results. Although Neti pots have been studied more extensively, and in some cases may prove more effective, sprays too have been shown to help with allergy symptoms and other sinus problems.

Local honey

Eating honey produced by bees in your region can help relieve allergies. The bees transfer pollen from flower blossoms to honey, so if you eat a little honey every day you’ll gradually become inoculated against the irritating effects of pollen.

That’s the widely held theory, anyway. Unfortunately, there’s little to no scientific evidence to back it up. Although a small 2011 study from Finland that compared regular honey and pollen-laced honey did report modestly encouraging results, an earlier study in the United States found that unaltered local honey had no impact on allergy symptoms.

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HEPA filter

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters ease symptoms by trapping allergens and other airborne irritants, such as pet dander and dust. Portable air cleaners equipped with HEPA filters can purify the air in bedrooms and other confined spaces, but whole-house systems that incorporate HEPA filters into your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system are generally more effective.

Air conditioners and dehumidifiers also can help clean air, Dr. Graham says. They remove moisture from the air and floor, which will curb the growth of the mold and mildew that can worsen allergies.

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Herbs and supplements

Several herbs and supplements—including spirulina, eyebright, and goldenseal—have been studied for allergy relief. The plant extract butterbur, which is thought to reduce airway inflammation, has produced what are perhaps the strongest results. In a pair of clinical trials led by a Swiss research team, butterbur tablets eased symptoms just as much as the over-the-counter antihistamines fexofenadine and cetirizine, respectively.

For his part, Dr. Graham suggests his patients first try bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple that is sometimes used to curb inflammation after sinus surgery. “It reduces swelling and improves breathing,” he says. “It’s a safe first step.”

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Showering

Anyone who has even been stuffed-up knows the impressive ability of a steaming hot shower to soothe sinuses and clear nasal passages, if only temporarily. But showers offer an added benefit for springtime allergy sufferers. A quick rinse after spending time outdoors can help remove allergens from your skin and hair—and prevent them from spreading to clothes, furniture, pillowcases, and other surfaces where they’re likely to dog you.

This is especially true if you’ve been gardening. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends stripping off your shoes and clothes and showering immediately if you’ve been weeding, pruning, or planting.

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Steam

Don’t feel like getting soaked and toweling off every time your sinuses get clogged? Other methods of inhaling steam—store-bought vaporizers, for instance—can flush out mucus and moisten dry nasal passages nearly as well as a shower.

The easiest method is simply to pour boiling water into a bowl or other container, drape a towel over your head to form a tent, and inhale deeply through your nose for five to 10 minutes. (Just be careful not to get your face too close to the water, as you may scald yourself.) If you find yourself really clogged up, this may be more convenient than taking several showers a day.

Eucalyptus oil

The strong, piney aroma of eucalyptus oil can supercharge steam inhalation, helping to open your sinuses and nasal passages further. Some research suggests the essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but if nothing else the vapor provides a bracing, menthol-like sensation that can make breathing seem easier.

Try adding a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water, or to the floor of the shower before you step in. Just don’t swallow the oil or apply it directly to your skin; it’s toxic in concentrated amounts.

Spicy foods

Many people swear by the sinus-clearing effects of spicy foods like chili peppers, wasabi, Dijon mustard, fresh garlic, and horseradish. Sure enough, an active ingredient in garlic (allyl thiosulfinate) and a similar ingredient in wasabi (isothiocyanates) do appear to have a temporary decongestant effect.

Foods with a kick can definitely start your eyes watering and open your nasal passages, but it’s unclear whether they provide anything more than fleeting relief.

Tea

Holding your face over a hot cup of tea may open your nasal passages, but the steam isn’t the only thing that’s beneficial. The menthol in peppermint tea, for instance, seems to work as a decongestant and expectorant, meaning it can break up mucus and help clear it out of your nose and throat.

Similarly, green tea contains a compound (methylated epigallocatechin gallate) that has been shown in lab teststo have antioxidant properties that inhibit allergic reactions. These results may not necessarily translate into noticeable symptom relief for spring allergy sufferers, however.

If you do have spring allergies, you’ll probably want to stay away from chamomile, as it can cause reactions in people allergic to ragweed.

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References

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  4. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (July 2012). “Food Allergy An Overview” (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 5 March 2016.
  5. Bahna SL (Dec 2002). “Cow’s milk allergy versus cow milk intolerance”. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 89 (6 Suppl 1): 56–60. PMID 12487206doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62124-2.
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  7.  “Allergen Immunotherapy”. April 22, 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 15 June2015.
  8. Simons FE (October 2009). “Anaphylaxis: Recent advances in assessment and treatment” (PDF). The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 124 (4): 625–36; quiz 637–8. PMID 19815109doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2009.08.025. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2013.
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  10. McConnell, Thomas H. (2007). The Nature of Disease: Pathology for the Health Professions. Baltimore, Mar.: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-7817-5317-3.
  11. “How Does an Allergic Response Work?”. NIAID. April 21, 2015. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.Asthma and Immunology Specific IgE Test Task Force”. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 101 (6): 580–92. PMID 19119701doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60220-7.
  12. Wheatley, LM; Togias, A (29 January 2015). “Clinical practice. Allergic rhinitis”. The New England Journal of Medicine. 372 (5): 456–63. PMC 4324099PMID 25629743doi:10.1056/NEJMcp1412

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