Is it a Cold or Allergies?

A few times a year I find myself sniffling, stuffed up, sometimes with a bit of an increase in my asthma symptoms but not anything too crazy, and wondering if I’m on the verge of getting sick, or if I’m just dealing with allergies.

Unlike many with asthma, allergies are a part of my world, but they’re mild enough that they only cause me some mild discomfort, only pop up here and there a handful of times throughout the year, and in essence, simply perplex me. And, I’m only allergic to dust, which means that most of the allergy—pollen and mould—count apps don’t help me out predicting things too much.

But it also means I don’t have enough experience figuring out when I am (maybe) getting sick or (maybe) “just” am dealing with allergies.

The most recent debate

I arrived home from Orlando feeling fine. I’d had a shockingly good 9 days of breathing in spite of the humidity, for the most part. Started a good number of days with nebs but was set for the rest of the day after giving my lungs a kick start prior to walking 20,000+ steps around theme parks and other touristy places. (Plus, not that 20,000 steps is anything to sneeze at—no pun intended related to allergies!—but given I was doing 20,000 steps also using crutches, that’s basically a full body workout all day!) I was pretty much fine in Orlando, and my sinuses were great.

A day after arriving home though, I was congested and sniffly and my nose was full of what seemed like never-ending gunk. (You’re welcome for this description!) I was convinced, after encountering literally tens of thousands of people and their germs in Disney World and Universal Orlando, I was getting sick. But the crash I was waiting for never came. The symptoms waxed and waned a bit, and only very mildly affected my lungs.
Huh. Maybe I wasn’t getting sick after all?

Is it a cold… or is it allergies?

Turning to my friends, Kat and Dia, we were unable to further differentiate the allergic or viral nature of my symptoms. After one full week, I was a bit better but was still more stuffed up than I had been since I got the Singulair in full force. I was helped considerably by an anti-histamine, but my symptoms were so mild, and seemed to have improved some it seemed ridiculous to keep taking them.

Symptoms of a cold versus allergies are pretty similar. I didn’t feel itchy, and my eyes weren’t watery, which are common with allergies.1 According to WebMD, clear mucus from the nose is most often associated with allergies, rather than a cold (where the presence of infection can make it yellowish or greenish).1 Yep, check on copious amounts of clear stuff coming from my nose. WebMD also states if your symptoms stay the same and last for more than 7-10 days, you likely have allergies. Well, my symptoms have gotten a bit better, but definitely not worse, and it has yet to be 7-10 days—and, I’ll be leaving home again before I hit that thresh hold.1

My other theory on why it’s likely allergies

After being away for 9 days, of course, the house had been essentially shut for a week and a half. My uncle came by with our mail the day after we got back, so he may not have even come inside when he came by the house. There was likely no true air circulating through the house, and thus, allowing dust mites to settle in… and not move at all until we got home. Poor ventilation in a home is suggested to cause increased levels of dust mite allergen.2, 3

While it’s not going to kill me, I suppose now that I suspect my symptoms are almost definitely allergic, it probably would not hurt for me start taking an anti-histamine again alongside my nasal sprays and inhalers… Even if just to stop sniffling!

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