Do you have a cold or winter allergies?

flu sneezing sick
It might not be a cold; you could be allergic to something.
Credit: Flickr/foshydog

It’s been 14 days and that cold you caught is still hanging on. What do you do? Probably nothing — it’s just a cold, right? Actually, you might have an allergy. No, allergies aren’t just a spring thing.

“What I tell [patients] is, if it lasts for more than nine days, it’s not a cold — it’s probably either a sinus infection or an allergy,” says Dr. Joan Lehach, an integrative medicine physician specializing in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Lehach knows it can be hard to distinguish a cold from allergies. “The things that they have in common are you get congestion, you can get a cough, you can get postnasal drip, you can get a headache. You just feel tired and not well.”

But there are other signs that indicate your bug may be an environmental issue, rather than a bacterial one. Typically, you are not going to get a fever with an allergy. Your mucus can be clearer in color — with colds, sometimes it turns green or yellow. You don’t get body aches with an allergy, typically, whereas with a cold you might.

Winter allergies do exist, and if you get sneezy during the spring and summer, chances are you’ll be affected in colder months too. Common culprits? “Indoor things like dust mites and mold,” Lehach says, adding that she’s seen more patients this year than last for a combination of allergies, sinus infections and earaches.

“I think part of it has to do with the craziness of the temperature, where it has been so warm, and so rainy, and so cold, back and forward,” she says. “A lot of the mold [and] pollen is still around, which, typically, when it’s very cold gets chilled off.”

Allergies are not just annoying — they can also lead to sinus infections, which are also similar to colds. Allergies set you up for getting actual colds and viruses because your immune system is stressed.

By paying attention to your nasal health, Lehach says you can reduce your risk of catching a wintertime bug. Follow her advice:

  1. “The most important thing you can do — and this applies to colds, flus and allergies — is wash your hands and face.”
  2. “In terms of breathing, I tell people to get a little gadget for their house and try to keep the humidity in their house around 50 percent. If the air is too dry, it sets you up for a dry mucosa with cracks in your nose, so when you are exposed to viruses you are more likely to get infected because you have these microscopic cracks. And if it’s too moist you are going to grow the mold and the dust mites and the indoor allergens [that] make your symptoms worse as well. For five or six bucks you can get this little gadget that will tell you the humidity in your house, and then you can either get a humidifier or a dehumidifier, or do something as simple as putting a pot on the radiator that moistens the air.”
  3. “Allergy symptoms benefit from herbs just like colds and the flu. Rootology is an excellent choice for nasal allergy prevention and treatment.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.