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You know that dreaded feeling: waking up in the morning and knowing that you are sick. Your nose is running, there’s a tickle in your throat, your eyes are watering, and you feel like you haven’t slept well. Add an earache to that, and you will be downright miserable. An even worse scenario is when your child wakes up feeling this way. It’s no fun feeling sick and even less fun watching your child go through the misery of colds, allergies, and the flu.
When you feel or observe the telltale symptoms, how do you know what the root cause is? For a cold or the flu, you may treat the symptoms, but the sickness needs to run its course. For allergies, you may be able to avoid the allergen and treat the symptoms. What about an earache? Many things can cause that pain, some serious and some less so.
Colds vs. Allergies
The symptoms of the common cold, also known as rhinovirus, are often very similar to those of various allergies. So how can you tell the difference?
- Duration. A cold can last from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, but no longer than that. Allergies can last for months if you are being exposed to the allergen continuously.
- Time of year. Colds usually occur in the winter. Allergies can cause symptoms at any time of year depending upon the allergen. Many are seasonal.
- Onset. A cold’s symptoms will appear a few days after exposure to the virus. If you experience symptoms a few days after being around someone else who is sick, chances are you have a cold. Allergy symptoms set in immediately upon exposure to an allergen.
- Symptoms. While they are very similar, there are some differences between cold and allergy symptoms. Coughing, fatigue, a sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose are both likely symptoms of allergies and a cold. Achiness can occur with the cold, but not with allergies. Itchy or watery eyes are common with allergies, but rare with a cold. In neither case should you have a fever. That could indicate the flu or some other type of infection.
What About Earaches?
Earaches can be very painful and uncomfortable. An earache may be a symptom of a cold or allergy, but it can also be caused by an infection, which is more serious. Several allergies cause earache like allergic rhinitis. This is caused by allergens that affect the nose and sinuses. The resulting pressure can cause pain in the ear. Dust and pollen allergies can also cause earaches. In each case, swelling in the sinuses can lead to ear pain.
An earache caused by a cold will be just one of several symptoms. If you have determined that you or your child has a cold and an earache is one of those symptoms, you will simply need to wait out the duration of the rhinovirus. If the earache does not disappear as the cold lets up, then you could have an ear infection that developed as a result of the cold. An ear infection is also indicated when there are no other cold-like symptoms, such as stuffy or runny nose, coughing, or sore throat.
An earache that is caused by a cold or allergy can be treated to relieve pain and pressure. An earache caused by an infection within the ear is more serious. It can be treated at home, but it is best to see a doctor because, depending upon the severity, antibiotics may be necessary.
For an earache, you can try a few different things. Put a few drops of peppermint oil in the ear. Use a cotton ball so you don’t overdo it. Just squeeze a saturated cotton ball lightly to let a few drops fall in the ear. It will tingle, but should also provide relief. You may also try a similar technique with hydrogen peroxide. Lie with the aching ear up and put a few drops of peroxide in it. Remain in that position for five minutes. The peroxide will dry out excess moisture. Applying a hot, wet washcloth to the affected ear can bring instant, although not long-lasting, relief. Just be sure it is not hot enough to burn the skin. It’s time to seek medical help if the symptoms do not go away or lessen after two days of home treatment or if the pain is very severe.
Unfortunately, allergies and colds cannot be cured. You can, however, treat the symptoms effectively to make them more bearable. For colds, you can relieve symptoms as you wait for the infection to pass. For allergies, your best bet is to avoid the allergen, but you can also treat the symptoms.
For colds, there are a few natural supplements that are thought to reduce the duration of the virus in your body. These include Echinacea, zinc, vitamin C-rich foods like citrus and broccoli, and garlic. To prevent getting a cold in the first place, you can consume these foods and supplements, which may boost your immune system.
To treat the symptoms of both colds and allergies, you have several natural options. Hot soups and teas are great ways to bring comfort. They help you stay hydrated, the steam can clear congestion, and the warm fluids are very soothing to the throat. A potent mix for fighting symptoms, especially before bed, includes hot tea, a shot of whiskey, a spoonful of honey, and a squeeze of lemon. This mix soothes the throat, stops coughing, and helps you relax.
A neti pot is a great, natural way to battle congestion and sinus pain from colds and allergies. You can find one at the drugstore or craft one for yourself. The pot simply makes pouring salt water into your nose easier. The point is to flush out your nasal passages, which relieves congestion, pressure, and pain, and even helps fight infection in the sinuses. It is a very simple and inexpensive treatment that yields outstanding results. Salt water is also great for the throat. To relieve soreness, gargle with saltwater several times a day. Just be sure not to swallow it.
The more information you have about the differences between colds, allergies, and ear infections, the better decisions you will be able to make. In most cases, you can adequately treat your symptoms naturally and inexpensively. But be sure to see a doctor or health care practitioner before starting any sort of treatment or when an infection seems more serious.
©2012 Off the Grid News