You are reading Spring: how to distinguish a cold from an allergy

Allergy & asthma

Spring: how to distinguish a cold from an allergy

May 8, 2018

The climate becomes milder and the trees begin to bloom. Spring, a long awaited season for some, can become a problem for allergy sufferers. Runny nose and itching are two characteristic symptoms of the season, but it is easy to confuse with the common cold. How to distinguish the allergic cold from the common one? We talk about it with Dr. Luca Malvezzi, otorhinolaryngologist and specialist in cervical facial surgery in Humanitas.


The key lies in the duration of the symptoms


Let us ask ourselves how long our cold lasts. “Allergy has a generally seasonal tendency and the symptoms are similar to those of the cold: nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, the sharing of the neighboring paranasal sinuses and therefore the reduction of the sense of smell, ear muffling and the feeling of a heavy head – stressed Dr. Malvezzi. If it lasts 2-3 days, it is a real cold, a viral rhinosinusitis; while in the case of an allergic cold the symptomatology lasts for the entire period of the allergy and has precisely a seasonal pattern. However, it is necessary to make a clarification: in Italy you can be allergic as a result of blooming in 11 months out of 12 (except November) and compared to the past there are many more allergic patients, allergic even to more substances and therefore the symptomatology can last for long periods during the year. It is therefore even more important to make a specialist assessment and distinction between allergic and non-allergic problems, rhinitis or rhinosinusitis and low respiratory tract involvement”.


It is better to avoid do-it-yourself treatment


It is very important that allergic patients are constantly monitored by the specialist and that the course of the allergy is followed over time from a multi-specialist point of view. Even if, as Dr. Malvezzi pointed out, we are faced with a mild symptomatology, the doctor’s opinion cannot be ignored when it comes to deciding which drugs to rely on. “The nasal decongestant sprays are very widespread – said Dr. Malvezzi -, but it is good that the patient receives a precise indication from their doctor on which is more appropriate to use because not all are appropriate to their situation. Vasoconstrictor sprays, for example, may be useful but must be used for short periods of time. Cortisone sprays, on the other hand, are the most widely used in allergy sufferers and are tailored to their needs; some are supplemented with antihistamines and are therefore more effective. Again, the use must be modulated and agreed with the specialist, but these sprays can be used for longer periods safely, except for particular categories of patients.

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