Cold Allergy, Allergy, and Cold. What Makes Them Different?

100_6641It seems that many people in the world are affected by cold and allergy. During the mornings or evenings, you tend to have sneezing along with a blocked nose. You may not know whether you are suffering from an ordinary cold or from an allergy. This is when you need to differentiate between a common cold and an allergy. The symptoms can be very similar, but they are completely different afflictions, so their treatments are also different.

Symptoms and treatments 

Common symptoms might include cough, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, running nose, stuffy nose. Usually aches, pain, fever, and thick yellow/greenish nasal discharge aren’t an indication of allergies just as itchy eyes don’t indicate a cold.

· Colds are caused by viruses. Their treatments are usually rest, pain relievers, decongestants, over-the-counter medications.

· Allergies are immune system responses triggered by one or more specific allergen. The best things you can do is to avoid the exposure to allergens if possible.  Treatments of  seasonal allergies are antihistamines (prescription or over-the-counter), decongestants, nasal steroid sprays.

What is cold allergy ?

Cold allergy, Cold Urticaria or cold hives is an allergy. This kind of allergy affects the skin, causing hives (urticaria) or red welts to form on the skin due to the exposure to a cold stimulus. The hives are usually itchy. Most often they show up on the hands and feet where they can cause swelling as well. When hives form, the fluid from the capillaries flows out into the surrounding tissues causing them to swell up. Hives come in different sizes. If the disease becomes chronic the hives can last for weeks. The Cold Urticaria can be inherited or caught.

What are the symptoms of Cold Urticaria?

When the body is exposed to the cold, hives occur on the skin on the affected area. Hives usually last from a few minutes to a few days. You usually get an irritating, burning sensation through your skin as if bees are stinging you. Severe reaction, when the hives form very fast, usually within less than 3 minutes of exposure, can be life-threatening (anaphylactic shock).

How to diagnose Cold allergy?

The allergist performs a cold test. During the procedure a piece of ice is held against the forearm usually for 2-3 minutes. The result is positive if red hives are raised on the contacted area.

How to Treat Cold Hives

The most important treatment is to stay warm. To control the condition, you should avoid exposure to cold temperatures or warm up immediately after the exposure. Hot water on the affected area or a warmer environment does not improve the condition, but helps prevent it from worsening. If the hives already formed, the warming up afterwards may cause the hives to go away faster.

According to some home remedies some vegetable shortening or butter applied on the affected area may reduce the risk of eruption of the hives. Good idea here would be to reduce the inflammation in your body. Usually, the doctors prescribe Antihistamines. Topical antihistamine creams may also provide some temporary relief.

Some studies suggest that Cold Urticaria has been linked to a gluten intolerance and gluten free diets have helped some Cold Urticaria sufferers. Hives formation is also assumed to be due to food allergies, asthma, environmental changes, and eczema.

The causes of hives are still under investigation.

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Stinging Nettle – This Undervalued Herb May Relief Allergy Symptoms

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Picture by Gi...

Singing nettle has been used for hundreds of years to strengthening the body and treating diseases. It has been found beneficial for the relief of allergies such as asthma, hay fever, hives and other allergic dermatitis. Stinging nettle may ease symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching by reducing inflammation.

Stinging nettle is also widely used today to treat urinary problems (urinary tract infections), early stage of enlarged prostate (BPH), hay fever (allergic rhinitis), painful muscle and joint conditions, and insect bites.

The benefits of the herb are due to a combination of several of the different components that may have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory analgesic, numbing, antiviral, and antibacterial effects.

Stinging nettle has many stinging hairs on its leaves and stems which injecting histamin and other irritating chemicals into the skin when it is touched.

The mixture of the chemical compounds that cause the painful sting are:

Acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter in the nervous system)

Histamine, which occurs naturally in the body, is the culprits behind allergic reactions. When you are exposed to allergens your body releases histamine, which in turn causes hives, constricts bronchial vessels, and inflames the skin. The histamine in nettle attaches to histamine receptor sites in your cells and keep your body’s histamines from attaching to those cells during an allergic reaction. Nettle’s action is very similar to that of pharmaceutical antihistamine drugs, says Stanley W. Beyrle, N.D., a naturopathic doctor at the Kansas Clinic of Traditional Medicine in Wichita.

Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter- thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. Also involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep and also have some cognitive function including memory and learning and act as antidepressants.

Moroidin is responsible for the long duration of the stings.

Leukotrienes are involved in asthmatic and allergic reactions and act to sustain inflammatory reactions. Leukotrienes also have a powerful effect in bronchoconstriction and increase vascular permeability, mediating inflammation; they induce asthma and other inflammatory disorders, thereby reducing the airflow to the alveoli.

Formic acid: found in the stings and bites of many insects (mainly ants). Major use of formic acid is as a preservative and antibacterial agent in livestock feed.

Do not take stinging nettle if you are taking medicine that prevents blood clots. Nettle leaves contain vitamin K. Nettle leaves also contain high level of iron, more than spinach, and are used in blood building. Nettle is rich in other minerals, such as chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and the flavonoid quercitin ( a powerful antioxidant).

Nettles strengthen the entire metabolism. Nettles cleanse and detoxify the kidneys, while stimulating the liver. It also can be beneficial in lessening symptoms of PMS and menopause. Externally nettle is added to shampoos and skin creams.

Both the nettle tincture and the dried herb are used as a tea. The tea works best when one starts to drink two-plus cups daily about two months before allergy season begins. 1 teaspoon (5gms) to 1 cup of boiling water 3x a day is recommended. The tincture dose is two droppers-full three times a day for most adults during allergy season.

It is worth a try to eat fresh nettle leaves. They are great in salad. Pick them up using gloves and rub the leaves to each other before cut them. This method eliminates the leaves stinging effect. 

 

Sources:

Stinging nettle – wickipedia

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