Is it a cold/flu that I have, or is it an allergy? "My eyes are itchy, my nose is running, I cannot stop sneezing, itching"...we have all either heard or voiced those complaints. The trouble is those symptoms also overlap with colds and flus. So which is it? In order to determine the difference usually takes not only a doctor’s diagnosis but also a general understanding of the difference.
Colds and flus are caused by viruses. Generally the symptoms for a cold include stuffy nose, slight irritation of the throat, slight cough. The flu usually adds to those symptoms with fever, headache and achiness. Colds generally have to run their course while flu symptoms can only be reduced through antiviral medications or time. Nothing specific, eaten, smelled or touched causes symptoms that resolve when the object in question is removed. Therein lays one of the differences between cold/flus and allergies.
An allergy is a result of a person’s overactive immune system in relation to an item that causes no reaction in the general public, i.e., strawberries, bee stings, etc. The severity of symptoms depends upon each individual and the seriousness of the allergy. Allergies range from mild, ex., sneezing, itchy eyes, to moderate, ex. hives, sinus headache, to severe or systemic reaction (anaphylaxis). Allergies can also cause mood disturbances and behavior disorders.
Allergies can develop over the course of a person’s life through repeated exposure. That person might not have been allergic to a particular item in the past but is allergic to it now. As with any condition, a doctor must make the diagnosis. There are tests that can be used by a physician to aid in the diagnosis of allergies, several of which DirectLabs offers: 1) Immunoglobulin A, IgA (IgA levels rise in response to allergens); 2) Immunoglobulin E, Total (Measures IgE levels in blood which is associated with allergies); and 3) Immunoglobulin IgA, IgG, IgM (to differentiate between bacteria, viruses, fungus, or animal dander).
Written by Theresa. B. Tannich, Order Processor Supervisor, DirectLabs, Inc., February 29, 2012.