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Allergies or a cold?

Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro

Opinions Editor

Image via Polina Tankilevitch

It is officially springtime, even though it would appear that Mother Nature has not gotten the memo yet. The changing of the season brings about a number of great things: chirping birds, trees and flowers blooming, warmer weather, better moods and allergies. The revival of nature means more sneezing, more itching, watery eyes, dry and itchy skin and of course, headaches. While it may be tempting to “overdose” on allergy medications, it is important to know exactly what to treat.

The beginning of spring is prime time for the rhinovirus, also known as the common cold. Asthma sufferers will typically have asthma attacks, and gastroenteritis, or “the stomach flu,” also makes its rounds. Other common springtime ailments, as well as signs and symptoms, are listed here.

There are many things that may cause allergies including pollen count, ragweed, grass and molds. The National Weather Service is reporting low tree pollen counts this spring. Allergies often cause itchy, watery and swollen eyes, sneezing, and coughing or wheezing and difficulty breathing. The best defense is to check the pollen count during the day. The pollen forecast can be checked by going to, or by listening to any local news station’s weather report.

The common cold can be brought on by a virus that lines the mucosal membranes of noses, mouths and eyes. It is passed through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. Rhinovirus is easily transmissible and can live on surfaces for hours at a time. Symptoms include mild fatigue, stuffy and/or runny nose, productive coughs and chills, among other things.

It is important to differentiate between allergies and rhinovirus. While neither of these are fatal, treating the wrong illness can be the difference between getting better or prolonging the illness. It would be best to consult with your doctor or Health Services for help in differentiating.

Health Services can be reached at 401-456-8055. If you are sick, please remember to stay home and rest, hydrate, and wash your hands frequently. Treating the symptoms is encouraged under the supervision of your provider.


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