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Your Stuffy Nose Could Mean More Than a Cold
Date:12/3/2007

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Runny nose, headache and watery eyes are often attributed to the common cold, but they can actually be signs of allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

"Millions of Americans think they are suffering from a cold during the winter months when they're actually experiencing allergies," said Anju Peters, MD, Chair of the AAAAI's Rhinosinusitis Committee. "Cold and allergy symptoms can be very similar, making it hard to decipher a difference between the two. The main difference is the length of time symptoms last. A cold normally disappears after a week or so, but allergies can last much longer. In order to receive proper diagnosis and treatment, it is important to differentiate between a cold and allergies," Peters added.

Allergies are caused by exposure to airborne allergens, such as dust mites, furry pets, mold, fungi and pollen. Symptoms of allergies are the result of events occurring in your immune system, the body's defense mechanism against harmful substances. The body of an individual with allergic disease identifies certain allergens as harmful. These allergens, which are harmless to most people, trigger allergic reactions within that person's immune system.

Allergies are not contagious, but the symptoms only vary slightly from the common cold, which is contagious. Symptoms of allergies include:
-- Runny or stuffed nose

-- Sneezing

-- Wheezing

-- Coughing

-- Watery or itchy eyes

-- Post nasal drip

-- Dull headache

The common cold (lasting only a week or two) can include the allergy symptoms listed above, but also often involve:
-- Fever

-- Body aches

-- Sore throat

Treatment options for allergies

Although there is no cure for allergies, several treatment options are available, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Immunotherapy, commonly known as a
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SOURCE American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
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