Cold or Allergy?

September 26, 2003 - Posted at 5:15 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Have you noticed the last couple of weeks that you just can't stop sneezing? An Autumn episode of sniffles and sneezing could be just a cold or it could be allergies.

"Generally a cold will resolve itself within seven days or so and lots of time they are associated with fever, low grade fever," said Dr. Scot Snodgrass of the Allergy clinic of Jonesboro. "Allergy symptoms usually persist. Eye watering and itching, nasal watering and itching, congestion, sneezing, and some of those are in both symptoms but you tend to see more of that in the allergic individual for a longer period of time."

Dr. Snodgrass says October is typically the busiest month in his office and the main allergy culprit this time of year is ragweed. "Although a single ragweed plant lives for only a single season, that one plant can produce up to 1 billion grains of pollen and that pollen can travel as far as 400 miles, " said Dr. Snodgrass.

The good news is you don't have to live in misery, there are a number of over the counter medicines to help.... But be careful with nasal decongestant sprays.

"Short term use is not a problem," Snodgrass said. "The problem we see is they provide immediate relief, but if they're used over a number of days they cause a condition which is a rebound and actually you'll end up with more problems than you started with."

If over the counter remedies don't work, or you have to use them all the time, then you probably need to see a doctor for relief.