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Ask Dr. Salada – Is it a Cold or Allergies?

Q:  I have been so congested lately. How can I tell if I have a cold coming on or if it’s just allergies – and should I stop working out?

A:  That’s a very good question as sometimes it is hard to tell. Colds can often start with symptoms similar to allergies as both can cause a runny nose, watery eyes and even a sore throat and headache.

Often, however, a cold will leave you feeling more tired and run down and sometimes will give you a low grade fever. Over the counter antihistamines are helpful for both symptom relief and to help you determine if it is just allergies. I like the 24 hour preparations like Loratedine, rather than the shorter duration medications like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) because they are less sedating and last all day rather than just 4-6 hours.

If your symptoms are allergy related, you should feel better within a few days of starting the over the counter medications. If you have a cold, your symptoms may be more severe and will last longer.

Most colds run their course in 7-10 days and because they are almost always viral in origin, an antibiotic won’t really help much. As for working out, there is no need to curtail or lighten your workout for either allergies or the common cold, as long as you feel rested enough and drink plenty of water. If your condition is more serious such as those accompanied by a fever, you may need to shorten the intensity and duration of your workout.

If you aren’t sure how to classify your symptoms, then it’s a good idea to check with your doctor prior to working out or continuing a workout regimen. In the meantime, stay healthy, sleep well and keep working out on your Total Gym!

Until next time,
Dr. Salada

Dr. Salada is board certified in Internal Medicine and has been in practice in San Diego since 1996. She attended medical school at Wake Forest University where she received high honors in Family Practice and Internal Medicine. Her final training was obtained from Pennsylvania State University where she completed her residency in Internal Medicine.

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