Is It a Cold ... or Allergies?
Do your sinuses hurt? Are your eyes itchy? Is your nose runny? You could have a cold, or like over 50 million Americans, you could be battling allergies. Check out The Doctor's Dr. Travis Stork's tips to help you diagnose what's causing your symptoms!
What is an allergy?
"You have an immune system and it’s supposed to fight off an enemy, an infection," Dr. Travis explains. "What happens with allergies (pollens, pet dander, etc.) is your body recognizes that as something foreign, and it feels like an invader so it actually mounts an immune response, but it’s an inappropriate immune response. You release all of this histamine and that histamine makes everything leaky. If you’re suffering from allergies, there’s a great phrase: 'Don't let your allergies rule your life, rule your allergies.'"
Dr. Travis says that one of the first things you can look at is the color of your mucus:
• Clear: According to Dr. Travis, "If every day when you wake up or every time you go outside you’ve got nice, clear mucus - real watery, real runny - most likely it’s allergies."
• Yellow/Green: "Usually, it’s a sign of an infection," Dr. Travis says, who busts one mucus myth. "Everyone thinks if it’s green, it means it's bacteria. That’s not for certain. If you’re [sneezing] this color out, probably you have a cold."
• Red/Dark Brown: "A lot of people who have allergies will end up with some darker brown mucus sometimes," Dr. Travis says, "because those little weak blood vessels, they can actually bleed pretty easily. It means you’re bleeding along with one of these other colors and in the end it gets [to the darker color]."
Dr. Travis points out that there are several areas you should examine to help determine whether you have a cold or allergies:
• The onset: "With a cold, it actually takes a few days. That itchy, scratchy sore throat then turns into congestion, and may develop a cough. With allergies, you walk outside and pretty soon your eyes start watering, you get the itchy throat, sometimes with the watery nose."
• Aches: "With a cold, sometimes you wake up in the morning and you feel a little bit achy; you should never have aches with an allergy."
• Watery eyes: "You rarely get itchy, watery eyes with a cold, but with allergies if you go outside and you start running from your nose and your eyes it’s almost certainly an allergy."
Dr. Travis talks about the wonders of the Neti Pot. "It’s a saline wash, so it doesn’t matter if you have a cold or allergies," he says. "It helps to functionally wash out all of the gunk, whether it's an allergen or an infection. Fill it with salt water that you find at the store and you literally pour it in one side [of your nose] and it comes out the other." Dr. Travis says there are also over-the-counter anti-histamines to fight the histamine response, but for people who have persistent allergies, a doctor might recommend nasal steroids to tamper down the symptoms.
"Last but not least," he adds, "I have this whole theory of 'eat to save your life;' the foods that you put in your body, you really need to start to think of those as medicine. If you eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you're priming your immune system to be better against infections and probably a little better when it come to allergens as well."
To best confirm any allergies and course of treatment, be sure to consult your physician.
Also on this show
- latest show clips
- celebrity friends
- cooking videos
- rachael between the scenes
- backstage pass
- tips and stories
- be on the show
- set tour
- audience tickets
- rachael's bio
- what's rach wearing
- rach on the radio
- follow us on twitter
- join us on facebook