You woke up this morning feeling terrible! You have a runny nose, sore throat, and even started sneezing. Now, you find yourself standing in the pharmacy aisle with a sudden feeling of uncertainty over which over-the-counter remedies to pick. A common question that we face is: “Which medicine should I buy? However, in order to find fast relief, you must first ask yourself a few of the questions below:
Do you have a fever (more than 102oF or 38.9oC)? Do you have a headache? Do you feel any pressure around your nose or eyes? How long have you had your symptoms? These simple questions can be your biggest clues to figuring out whether the sniffling or congestion is from a cold or sinus problem. So, lets explore each of these different causes.
What is the common cold or flu? The cold and flu are upper respiratory tract infections that are caused by viruses. Antibiotics cannot be used to fight the cold or flu because they can only kill bacteria not viruses. There can be a real danger to taking antibiotics when they are not needed. The overuse of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance and its ineffectiveness when we really need it. The common cold usually lasts seven to ten days and goes away with plenty of rest and fluids. You have to let the cold run its course. To give you relief in the meantime, some of the following over-the-counter choices are: cough syrups, pain relievers (such as Tylenol or Advil), or multi-symptom cold relief medicines (such as DayQuil). The cold and flu share common symptoms. However, you will feel a lot worse with the flu. A fever is very common with the flu and you will also experience more aches and pains and extreme fatigue or weakness. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu shoot every year.
What are allergies? Allergies can occur when your body recognizes that something is not part of you. This foreign trigger can include: pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds, dust mites, animal fur, mold, or foods (such as tree nuts, milk, and eggs). How long your symptoms last is one of the biggest clues to figuring out whether it’s a cold or sinus problem. Allergies can be seasonal and can lasts much longer than the typical ten days of a cold. The following facts can help you determine whether its allergies: sore throat that is often caused by a runny nose, rashes and/or itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and congestion. You might have noticed that fever and body aches are not listed as signs of an allergy. Unlike a cold, allergies will not go away on its own. Allergies require treatment or the removal of the sources that trigger the sinus problems.
It is important to recognize the difference between a cold versus the flu versus allergies so we are not taking any unnecessary medications.