BETH CORN, MD & PATIENT: I'm gonna do some skin testing to see what you're allergic to, given that you gave symptoms of allergy. I'm gonna take these needles and I'm gonna introduce different proteins from different allergens in the environment, and in 20 minutes, we're gonna know what you're allergic to.
ANNOUNCER: The test, a series of scratches or pricks, is fairly painless. And the results can be seen quickly.
BETH CORN, MD & PATIENT: As you can see by the red blotches, and those indicate what you're allergic to. So this is your positive control, this is just histamine that I put on from my tray. And I compare all of these reactions to the histamine positive control. So you can see the reaction here, is cat.
ANNOUNCER: Once allergies are established, there are a range of treatments available to control symptoms.
MARION RICHMAN, MD: We have steroids, which can be used, sprayed into the nose, which are very effective. We have the non-sedating antihistamines which are a mainstay of treatment.
ANNOUNCER: Those antihistamines, prescribed by doctors can be taken once day to control symptoms, and are non-sedating. Many of those found over the counter are not.
MARION RICHMAN, MD: The over-the-counter antihistamines are effective, probably just as effective as the prescription ones, but they have that you know very serious side effect of making people sleepy.
BETH CORN, MD: So this affects people's productivity at work, it affect's people's mood, it affects children going to school, learning.
ANNOUNCER: But recently a non-sedating antihistamine, has become available over the counter.
MARION RICHMAN, MD: That would definitely be better for the consumer. But they may still want to you know talk to their doctor and make sure their symptom profile is appropriate for the medicine they're going to take.
ANNOUNCER: With the common cold, treatment is also geared towards relieving symptoms.
MARION RICHMAN, MD: For cold we still don't have the cure, so the treatment options are really limited to whatever symptoms you have. For the congestion there's the decongestants. Runny nose you can use antihistamines. Cough you can use cough suppressants.
ANNOUNCER: Plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids can also be effective. Ultimately, understanding the difference between the common cold and an allergy can mean finding the most effective treatments to fight off the symptoms of both.