Is It A Cold or Allergies? Part 1

Sniffles. They come with a cold. They’re also symptoms of allergic reactions. For this reason, it’s easy to confuse an allergy with a cold. Sometimes you need help to figure out what’s going on.

If have a cold that lingers on longer than a week or two, or if you have other allergy symptoms, it’s important to see your health care provider. You may be referred to an allergist, a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.

Identifying Allergies
To figure out whether you have an allergy, your health care provider will begin with a detailed medical history. You’ll be asked about your work and home environments, your eating habits, your family’s medical history, and miscellaneous matters, such as what kind of heating and cooking fuels you use and whether you have pets. Timing of your allergy symptoms is important, too. For example, if your symptoms happen at the same time each year, it’s likely that a seasonal allergen, like pollen, is the culprit.

After taking your history, your health care provider will examine you to rule out any other health problems that may be causing your symptoms. If all signs point to an allergy, the next step is testing to determine what you are allergic to. Two types of allergy diagnostic tests — skin tests and blood tests — provide more information and back up what your health history has revealed.

Skin tests. For these tests, the doctor injects diluted extracts made from common allergens like dust, pollens, or molds under your skin or applies them to scratches or punctures on your arm or back. Certain medicines, including antihistamines, antidepressants, or corticosteroids may interfere with the skin testing. Check with your allergist to find out how long before the testing you must stop taking your medicine.

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