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Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Meghan, Community Member, asks

Q: What can happen if you take allergy medicine and find out that you actually had a cold?

I thought my allergies were acting up so I took loratadine. As the day progressed I got extremely drowsy, my body started to ache, and I had a horrible sinus headache. My throat swelled up where I was wheezing horribly. I finally came to the conclusion that it could not just be allergies, but it had to be a cold since it was getting progressively worse. This morning I woke up with another headache and now my snot is green. I am positive it is a sinus cold now. The allergy medicine did nothing, but only seemed to make me really light headed. Does allergy medicine, if taken when you don't really have allergies, but in fact a cold actually make it worse or just cause side effects like drowsiness?

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Answers (2)
JB, Editor
1/ 7/09 10:47am

Hi Meghan,


Allergy medicine should not worsen your cold. The medicine may be ineffective against the specific symptoms caused by the cold (or they may be effective; many allergy medicines have similar ingredients to cold medicines, such as decongestants).

It is possible to suffer side effects of the allergy medicine, whether or not your symptoms are caused by allergies. But Loratadine rarely has side effects. The symptoms you described appear to be related to the drug, not to the cold. Click here to read about loratadine side effects.


If you think it's a cold, you should see your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen or do not go away in about a week (the typical duration for the common cold). Let your doctor know about all your symptoms and any drugs you took to help the doctor figure out just what may be ailing you.


Let us know if you have any other questions!

Bob R., Community Member
8/13/09 1:38am

If it's a cold, you probably don't need to see your doctor (right away anyway). Physicians can rarely do anything about minor colds. People should only see their physician if the condition is either 1) acute (severe symptoms like broken bone, blood in the urine, etc.) or 2) chronic (strange long-lasting symptoms). The best treatment for a cold is to stay at home (IMPORTANT! prevent yourself from transmitting it to others!!) and to just rest. Our bodies are much more resilient than modern society gives them credit for. Most of the problems people go to see their PCP for are in fact problems that will fix themselves in 1-2 days. Overuse of emergency rooms and GPs for trivial complaints has led to an overburdening of the healthcare system in general, which has resulted in a trend towards increase in insurance premiums and fees (not to mention it sucks for your GP to deal with their 15th minor cold that week). So -- do the right thing. Don't go seeking medical attention for trivial complaints. Trust in your body.

helen, Community Member
2/ 3/09 2:21pm

nothing will happen.

the only thing that will happen is that it will confirm the fact that you have a cold cause you'll still have the symptoms. it's very difficult sometimes to know if you have a cold or allergies cause the symptoms a lot of the times are very similar.

don't worry nothing will happen.

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By Meghan, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/06/10, First Published: 12/31/08