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Allergies vs. Cold: Which One Do I Have?


It’s allergy season, and you know what that means: coughing and sneezing galore! But, how can you tell if you have a cold or allergies. Although a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and coughing are signs of a cold you might actually have seasonal allergies. It is hard to tell during this time of year and you want to make sure you don’t take medicine for something you don’t even have. First things first you should visit a doctor if you are completely unsure book an appointment here with a doctor in your area to help diagnose your symptoms.

If you have been feeling sick all of sudden, feel achy, and a little run down you might have a cold. Here are the basics of both:

What Exactly Is a Cold?

A “Common Cold” is very common on the return of spring as your body is adjusting to the changes in the weather. Colds are contagious. You can easily catch them by being in the same room with someone that sneezes, touching an infected person through hand-to-hand contact, or touching something that an infected person has touched. It is very easy to catch this virus, which is why millions of Americans suffer with it during this time of year.

Colds, however, usually do not last longer than a week or two. The symptoms are most typically are a cough, general aches and pains, sneezing, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and sometimes fatigue. The best way to determine if you have a Cold is to see the doctor.

What Exactly Are Allergies?

Seasonal allergies are also coming in full force around the same time as the “Common Cold,” so it may be hard to tell the difference. Allergies are when your body is sensitive to a certain substance, so your immune system fights off those substances by releasing a chemical, called histamines. The releasing of those histamines create similar symptoms to a cold. Similar symptoms include congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and sometimes coughing.

Allergies, however, can last for months and have more common symptoms every year they return. Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and stuffy nose are the most common symptoms. Patients may wake up with some form of itchiness and/or congestion.

The Battle: Allergies vs. Cold:

Allergies hit hard, and usually about the same time every year. The most common time for allergies is the beginning of spring, where airborne pollens and allergens are striking hard. Many patients with allergies will start by sneezing and a postnasal drip, which can lead to a sore throat. This is one of the main triggers that is sometimes confused for a cold.

Again allergies are not contagious, but can be an annoyance for day to day life. There are many over the counter medications one can take to help alleviate allergy symptoms. They include:

-          Oral antihistamines

-          Nasal sprays

-          Decongestants

If over the counter medications do not work you might want to see an Allergist. Allergy testing might be needed to help weed out what you are allergic to. Book an appointment with an Allergist now.

Colds also hit hard but do not last nearly as long as allergies. Body aches and a fever are common with a cold and are symptoms that can help you differentiate between allergies and a cold. Also, itchiness of the eyes, nose, or throat is uncommon with a cold.

Colds can be severe and also impact daily life. The only way to get over a cold is to really wait it out. However visiting the doctor can speed up the process or any of these over the counter products can help make soothe the symptoms.

-          Cough medicine

-          Nasal spray

-          Cough drops

All in all, allergies and colds are never fun to deal with but they both can be treated with the correct medications. If you have a cold that last longer than 2 weeks it is recommend you see a doctor because it might actually be signs of something else. Also if your allergies are so severe and over the counter medications are not working then it is best to see an Allergist. 

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