Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Select An Article

Is It a Common Cold or Allergies?

(continued)
Font Size

Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Allergies

Because the causes of cold and allergy symptoms are quite different, preventing them requires different strategies.

To prevent allergy symptoms, avoid substances you're allergic to, called allergens. So if you're allergic to pollen, for instance, avoid going outside on days when the pollen count is high. Here are some common allergens:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches

To prevent cold symptoms, prevent the cold-causing virus from getting into your system.  Keep your distance from people who have colds. Wash your hands often. To protect others, always cover your mouth and nose (with a tissue or your sleeve, rather than your hands) when sneezing or coughing.

There is no cure for either the common cold or allergies. But there are ways to ease the cold and allergy symptoms.

To treat either cold or allergy symptoms, you can try:

  • Antihistamines, which block the effects of histamine, a natural substance that causes symptoms such as congestion and a runny nose
  • Decongestants, which reduce swelling in the mucus membranes of the nasal passages, making you feel less stuffy

If you have any medical problems, or take other medicines, talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines.

To treat allergy symptoms, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Nasal steroids, which reduce swelling in the nasal passages, relieving congestion and other symptoms. Two nasal steroid sprays, Nasacort and Flonase, are available over the counter.
  • Allergy shots, called immunotherapy, which involves being injected with a small amount of the substance to which you are allergic. Over time, the dose is increased. By exposing you to greater and greater amounts of the allergen, your body may develop a tolerance to it so that it no longer causes symptoms.

To treat cold symptoms, you may also try:

  • Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Aleve, or Tylenol, to treat fever, aches and pains
  • Getting extra rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids

Although cold and nasal allergy symptoms are rarely serious, they can sometimes lead to other problems. For instance, both colds and allergies can lead to sinus infections and a middle ear infection. If you think you might have allergies -- or your cold symptoms seem severe or are not getting better -- see your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 13, 2014
1|2
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
 
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
 
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
Slideshow
cold weather
VIDEO
 
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Article
Boy holding ear
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
Article
woman with fever
Article
 
Waking up from sleep
Article
woman with sore throat
Slideshow