The month of May means being outside in the warm beautiful weather. It also has its health problems with symptoms of fatigue, sore throat and cough. These can be symptoms of allergies or upper respiratory infections. How can you tell the difference?
Many of my patients will have certain antidotes they use to treat the first signs of a cold. If they’ve tried these and find no relief, then it’s time to question if something else is the cause. Is it really a cold, or is it allergies? Allergies can develop even if you’ve never had them before.
Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, post nasal drip and cough. But not always…
Respiratory infections such as a cold (viral) can also include sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough and fatigue. The difference is usually fever and/or body aches. Fever is not a symptom of allergies. Viruses usually last anywhere from 3-14 days and the treatment involves treating your symptoms (Not antibiotics).
Allergies on the other hand, can last for months if it’s seasonal or throughout the year if you are constantly exposed to the allergen such as dust, fragrances or your pets. Unfortunately if you have asthma, both colds or allergies can trigger symptoms.
Things you can do:
1. Nasal rinses help both allergies and colds. Use 1/4 tsp of sea salt and 1 pinch of baking soda in 1 cup of warm filtered or spring water. Rinse your nose using a Nettie Pot or just cup your hand and scoop out some of this water and sniff in your nose gently. Spit out water that goes to the back of the throat and repeat until what you are spitting out is clear. Then gently blow your nose. I recommend doing this 2-3X/day.
2. If you have been around someone with a cold or have recently traveled on an airplane in the past 3 days before developing symptoms, then most likely you have a cold. You can gargle with salt water (same recipe as above) if you have a sore throat. Drink lots of fluids, add Vitamin C, and avoid sugars, alcohol and caffeine. Try to have soups, and foods with garlic, onions, turmeric, chilies or garlic. These have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that enhance your immune system. Light exercise is fine but you shouldn’t feel exhausted after your work-out. Rest is important.
3. Try to identify your allergen and avoid it. If you suspect it’s something outside, then close your windows at night and run an air filter in your bedroom with the door closed. You can run the air filter throughout the day in your bedroom to keep that room as cleared of allergens as possible. Also, no pets in your bedroom (sorry).
4. Allergy symptoms are best treated with supplements or medication that works as an anti-histamine. Some suggestions are Quercetin, Stinging Nettles and Vitamin C. There are many over-the-counter antihistamines you can try that are non-sedating such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra. Benadryl can be used at night since it can cause drowsiness and help with sleep.
If you are still frustrated with symptoms and nothing is working, (or your symptoms worsen) see your doctor or practitioner to rule out a bacterial infection that would need other treatments.
Have a safe and happy summer!