By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

(audience applause) – I receive thousands of emails every week on the Dr. Phil Show from
viewers wanting answers to the most complex
situations in their lives. But sometimes there are
simple health questions whose answers can help everyone. That’s when I call on my good
friend Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer, so you can Ask The Doctors. Now Dr. Freda, today’s question is on a video from Wes
right here in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look. – Hi doctors. I’ve been sneezing and
coughing off and on. Is it a cold or just seasonal allergies? How do I tell the difference? – Now that is a great question. I was out of town just the other day and I was talking to Robin on the phone, I said I’m either coming down with a cold or it’s sinuses, I don’t know which. So is there a big
difference in how you feel when you deal with a
cold versus allergies? – Well there is a difference and it’s important to try
and tell the difference because the way that you prevent and the way that you treat those
things is different, right? So both of them have sneezing
and coughing in common, but how you want to approach
them is very different. So for starters, they’re
caused by different things. A cold or the common cold
is caused by a virus, so that’s an infection with a virus and seasonal allergies are
a response to allergens in the environment that trigger your body’s immune system response. So seasonal allergies are
really your body reacting to exposure to things like
grass or pollen or mold. – But if the symptoms are so similar, how do we tell the difference? That’s what I was saying
to Robin, I felt the same. How do you tell? – Okay, so subtle differences,
but I have three tips that might be able to help. So the first one is
actually the symptoms can be a little bit different. So the sneezing and the
coughing are the same but in the common cold you
may also have a mild fever, a slight sore throat, body aches, and you may also have a runny nose. – Okay. – Okay, so with seasonal allergies you may, in addition to
that sneezing and coughing, have okay the runny nose is back again but you may also have congestion. So you talked about your
sinuses feeling congested. And also, think itchy. So you may have itchiness in your nose, the roof of your mouth, your throat, your eyes, or your ears. – That’s with the allergies, okay, got it. – Okay, so that’s symptom difference. Now there may also be a difference in the timing of these things. So, if you think about
it, colds, the common cold often comes in the fall
and seasonal allergies come in the seasons when
those allergens are out, so that’s the spring and the summer. Now, yes, either one of these things can happen any time of year, so that’s not a perfect way to do it. But there are possibly some differences. And then lastly, is the duration. So the common cold generally
lasts a week to 10 days. If it lasts any longer than that, you should call your doctor. The seasonal allergies
last like the season in which the allergens are about, so that may mean a month or more. – So how do we prevent and treat colds and seasonal allergies? – Colds first. So remember the cold is an infection. You’re gonna end up with some symptoms, but prevention and then these
things that your mom told you, you wanna wash your hands frequently, you wanna avoid people
that you think might be suffering from one of these illnesses. And then, if unfortunately you do get it, you wanna rest and stay hydrated and then some symptomatic relief. Like if you have a fever, you wanna bring your fever down. If you have some pain,
take a pain reliever. If you find yourself congested,
you want a decongestant. – Now seasonal allergies,
what do you do about that? – Seasonal allergies,
again, avoid if you can. Sometimes you just can’t
avoid it, but if you can, when the pollen or mold
counts are high, stay inside, keep your windows closed, and remember, some people forget this, don’t go out. These allergens get all in you, you bring them into your house. So you wanna make sure when you come in you take your clothes off, move anything that may still have the allergens on them and try and keep that inside
environment clean as well. And if you are suffering
with seasonal allergies you could think antihistamines
or decongestants to try and help relieve
some of those symptoms. – But always consult
with your healthcare team before you decide if it’s a cold or seasonal allergies, right? And cold and allergy symptoms
are very similar to flu, which can be a really serious
illness for some people. So you also wanna talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot, right? – Exactly, so you wanna make sure… A lot of this is kind of
your own detective work, but you wanna make sure that
your healthcare provider’s helping you decide and also making sure that you don’t have the
flu which can be dangerous. – Great advice, great advice. (audience applause) If you have a health-related question there’s a wealth of information on – And of course while you’re there, sign up for the Get Healthy
Stay Healthy newsletter, so your everyday health questions can come directly to you. – Well Dr. Freda, as always,
thank you for joining me for another informative
segment of Ask The Doctors. I love these, absolutely love them. (audience applause)

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