Learn the difference between allergies and colds and which medications are best for each.
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Cold and Allergy Medications Joanne: Hi, doctors. My family suffers from allergies, and I was just wondering do cold medications work for seasonal allergies and vice versa? Dr. Drew Ordon: Well, yes and no. They are two very different processes but have similar symptoms. This is an overlap in symptoms. First of all, with allergies and we know how that works. You ingest something an allergen like pollen, dander, ragweed something like that, you create an immunological response in your body, antibody reaction that binds to a mast cell. Mast cells released histamine. It’s histamine release that gives you all those symptoms of redness, watery eyes, itchy eyes, sneezing, and itchy nose. But, compared to colds, you’re not going to have a fever. You’re not going to have achiness. Typically, it’s not going to get into your lungs unless you’re asthmatic. So to compare that with the cold, colds we get from viruses. You’re going to have typically, the runny nose which is going to go down into your throat, into your lungs, possibly bronchitis, but you’re not going to have the redness, the itchy eyes, the sneezing. So the medications are little different. Actually, saline rinses are good for both. So as a starter, all of us agree we like that for both kids and adults. If it’s an allergy situation, the mainstay is antihistamines and antihistamines have gotten better and better all the time as far as eliminating the side effects, drowsiness and dried mouth. With cold medication, it’s more a decongestant which is just going to dry you out a little bit. Decongestants really are not recommended as much for allergies. For allergies, you may need to add a steroid. Dr. Travis Stork: A great question and good luck to you.