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Could my cold-like symptoms be allergies?

Hi there,

About two weeks ago, I had a scratchy, irritated throat, with a runny nose.  The next day I became congested and the day afterwards I developed a cough.   The cough was usually productive, that is, it brought up phlegm.  The scratchy throat went away after about a day.  The runny nose or nasal discharge, and cough continued for almost two weeks.  Did I catch a cold or was it allergies?

Some background.  I do have allergies to tree pollen, grass, ragweed, dust mite and cat.  In the past, my allergy symptoms were usually just runny nose and sneezing.  None of the antihistamines and nasal sprays work for me now.  I'm currently doing allergy shots.  Could my allergies gotten so bad that I have developed a stuffy nose, and coughing symptoms in addition to the runny nose and sneezing?  Has anyone experience worsening allergies where they had additional multiple symptoms?

Thanks for your reply! 

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  • Melissa G

    Hi StuffySimon! Welcome to the AAFA forums! 

    Sorry you have been feeling poorly. It is hard to say if it is just allergies or if you caught a cold. Our pollen counts have been very high this season and the flu is still active in our area. 

    Have you checked in with your dr to let them know what is going on? How long have you been taking allergy shots?

  • StuffySimon

    Hi Melissa! 

    Thank you for your warm welcome and message!

    I will see a doctor on Tuesday.  I hope she can tell me what's going on with me.  If it's a cold, it's really dragging on.  If it's allergies, it's the worse I've ever had.  Could be something else as well…

    I started the allergy shots in fall of 2018.  I've been going since then for weekly injections.  Since pollen season is here now, they have stopped giving me higher doses of the allergens.  I'm currently on a holding dose until fall comes when they can continue increasing it.

  • Melissa G

    You're welcome!

    Besides the allergy shots, what are you doing to treat your allergy symptoms? Do you take a daily antihistamine? What are your allergy triggers?

    I had to switch my antihistamine nearly two years ago. I also have to add in a decongestant and sinus rinses when I start to struggle with allergy symptoms. 

  • StuffySimon

    Hi Meliisa,

    I have been taking Reactine (antihistamine) for the past three days.  It's not really working.  Most allergy meds and nasal sprays don't work for me.  I tried nasal irrigation (hydraSense) for my nose but it doesn't really help.  My triggers are tree pollens right now.  How about you?  What are you allergic to?

    What decongestant are you using?   I might ask my doctor for one.  My allergies don't usually cause congestion.  This will be the first time it has caused a stuffy nose if what I have turns out to be allergies.

  • Melissa G

    I use to take Zyrtec but then switched to Xyzal. I take Max-Strength Mucinex D. It is otc but you have to ask the pharmacist for it because it is behind the counter. 

    I am allergic to grass, trees, dust and mold. 

  • StuffySimon

    That's good that antihistamines still work for you.  Have you considered allergy shots?

    You have both indoor and outdoor allergies.  Probably means you suffer throughout the year?

  • Melissa G

    I took allergy shots when I was a teenager and they didn't help me. 

    Yep, I have indoor and outdoor allergies. Winter is a better time of year for me. 

  • AllergicAnn

    Hello StuffySimon! Thanks for sharing. The same thing has been happening to me, and my shot administrators have told me that it sounds like allergies. I am allergic to tree pollen, tree nuts grasses, mold, and shellfish. Also, I've been using Dymista nasal spray for years, and it works very well for my sinuses. 

  • StuffySimon

    Hi AllergicAnn!  Thanks for your reply.  My doctor thinks that I have a combination of a cold and allergies.  She gave me new oral antihistamines to try (Blexten).  Two days in so far and they don't seem to work.  I've tried Dymista last year and they didn't work for me either.  What stage are you at regarding your allergy shots?  What kind of symptoms do you normally get with your allergies?

  • K8sMom2002

    Welcome, AllergicAnn and StuffySimon!

    In many places this year, pollen has been much worse than last year — and according to AAFA's blog post on , it has been increasingly worse every year for many years now.

    StuffySimon, did you see your doc on Tuesday? What did she say?

    Newer antihistamines don't always help congestion and stuffy noses, but they have fewer side effects and adverse reactions than the older antihistamines like Benadryl. My daughter's and my action plans call for us adding regular old-fashioned pseudoephedrine tablets as needed when we're really congested. 

    Many doctors prescribe nasal steroid sprays, but they can take a while to become effective, so stick with them and don't expect instant results. AllergicAnn's Dymista is another good suggestion — it's a nasal antihistamine, and it usually takes effect within an hour of using it.

    Another problem that my daughter ran into … when her sinuses become inflamed and congested in the least little bit as a younger child, she developed a sinus infection, which would lead to even more congestion and would trigger her asthma. So now when her allergies really begin to flare, her action plan includes taking a decongestant pill (pseudoephedrine).

    Our doctors say this: if our symptoms last longer than 14 days, go see them, and they'll help us figure out whether it's allergies or whether it's a sinus infection.

    Another way to tell the difference between a cold and allergies is that cold symptoms tend to peak around the third day. So if you felt awful on your third day of symptoms and then began to feel slightly better on days four and five, that may mean it was a cold.

  • Melissa G

    Welcome to the AAFA forums AllergicAnn!   Glad to hear the nasal spray helps you. What other things do you do to help control your allergies?

  • StuffySimon
    K8sMom2002 posted:

    Welcome, AllergicAnn and StuffySimon!

    In many places this year, pollen has been much worse than last year — and according to AAFA's blog post on , it has been increasingly worse every year for many years now.

    StuffySimon, did you see your doc on Tuesday? What did she say?

    Newer antihistamines don't always help congestion and stuffy noses, but they have fewer side effects and adverse reactions than the older antihistamines like Benadryl. My daughter's and my action plans call for us adding regular old-fashioned pseudoephedrine tablets as needed when we're really congested. 

    Many doctors prescribe nasal steroid sprays, but they can take a while to become effective, so stick with them and don't expect instant results. AllergicAnn's Dymista is another good suggestion — it's a nasal antihistamine, and it usually takes effect within an hour of using it.

    Another problem that my daughter ran into … when her sinuses become inflamed and congested in the least little bit as a younger child, she developed a sinus infection, which would lead to even more congestion and would trigger her asthma. So now when her allergies really begin to flare, her action plan includes taking a decongestant pill (pseudoephedrine).

    Our doctors say this: if our symptoms last longer than 14 days, go see them, and they'll help us figure out whether it's allergies or whether it's a sinus infection.

    Another way to tell the difference between a cold and allergies is that cold symptoms tend to peak around the third day. So if you felt awful on your third day of symptoms and then began to feel slightly better on days four and five, that may mean it was a cold.

    Hi K8sMom2002!

    Thanks for the welcome and your reply!

    I did see a doctor on Tuesday.  She said that I likely had a combination of a cold and allergies.  My congestion and cough is better today so I think the cold is slowly going away.  I still have my allergy symptoms of a runny nose and sneezing.  The new antihistamine my doctor prescribed (Blexten) doesn't seem to work.  Most meds and nasal sprays don't work for me.  Running out of options…

    Yes, a sinus infection can develop from untreated allergies.   Something else to worry about.

    I had the same symptoms (stuffiness, nasal discharge, coughing) for almost two weeks. It didn't get better or worse.  So that's why I thought it was allergies.  But I guess a cold can linger for 2 to 3 weeks.

     

     

  • StuffySimon

    Hi Melissa!

    Thanks for thinking of me.  I think my cold is gone now, but I still have a lingering cough.  Sometimes I think it may be related to my allergies.  I have been on a new antihistamine (Blexten) for almost two weeks and it doesn't seem to help.  I still have a runny nose and sneezing.  My allergies are usually the worse around April and August/September.  But this year I have been suffering into June.  

    How are you doing?  How are your allergies?  Do you never have a cough with your allergies?  

  • Melissa G

    Uughh, a lingering cough is never fun. Sorry, the new antihistamine isn't working well. 

    My allergies have been ok. I only have a cough when I get a tremendous amount of mucus. When that happens I need to add in a decongestant. Locally, our pollen counts have still been very high.