How to tell the difference between allergies, common cold


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- It's a day many of us have been dreading -- cedar pollen is showing up in Central Texas.

While allergies will make many people miserable over the next two months, one doctor warns what you think are allergies could be something else.

Celia McDonald went to the Allergy and Asthma Center in Northwest Austin desperately seeking some relief.

“My nose is a faucet; just stuffy and heaviness in my head,” she said. “I took an Allegra today. I don't think it helped.”

“The symptoms of an allergy involves lots of itching in the eyes and the nose, plus runny nose and stuffiness,” said William Howland M.D.

Dr. Howland says there are several over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help you make it through cedar season.

If you're taking medication and you're not feeling better, Dr. Howland says you may not be suffering from allergies after all.

“Swollen glands don't occur with allergies," Dr. Howland said. “With an allergy the secretions tend to stay clear and water the whole time.  As a cold goes on, the secretions that we have begin to get thicker and colored.”

So if your symptoms include swollen glands, feeling tired and allergy meds aren't helping, experts say don't blame cedar.

“Allergy symptoms respond nicely to antihistamines like Allegra, you can buy over the counter. Colds don't respond to antihistamines at all,” Dr. Howland said.

Dr. Howland says if you do have a cold, you'll want to take a decongestant and get plenty of rest.

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