Local News

Allergies, Colds Part Of Changing Seasons

Posted October 27, 2003 4:27 a.m. EST

— With the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, it is no wonder fall is a favorite time for many people. But with the first burst of cold weather often comes coughs, sniffles and runny noses.

What some might think is allergies could also be a cold or a sinus infection. Experts said telling the difference can be tough.

While many of the symptoms are the same, there are subtle differences. All can usually be treated with over-the-counter medications.

  • Colds usually last a week, and symptoms include a runny nose and low-grade fever.
  • With allergies, there is no fever. Instead, most people complain of a runny nose, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
  • Facial pain is the biggest predictor of a sinus infection. Nasal discharge tends to be discolored and nasal passages may be stopped up.
  • "When your problem persists and it doesn't get any better, it's important to talk with somebody," said Dr. Angela Davis-Allen, a Duke allergist.

    Even though fall allergies will be gone after the first frost, cold and sinus season is just beginning.

    When buying over-the-counter medications, experts suggest getting one that contains medicine for only the symptoms you have so you are not taking medicine you do not need.

    Chronic sinus infections can be a sign of bigger problems, and should be checked by a doctor.