Do I have a cold, or is it my allergies?December 23, 2015

Is it Allergies? Or is it a Cold?

There are some similarities between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms, which can make it difficult for a person to tell the difference between the two. However, there are also important differences. Below are some of the ways you can distinguish between a cold and allergies.

Allergies vs. Sickness

Underlying Cause:
Colds are caused by hundreds of different viruses. When one of these viruses gets into your body, the immune system attacks it. Some of the effects of this immune response are the classic symptoms of a cold. The germs that cause a cold are contagious.

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a particular substance. The body mistakes a substance, such as pollen or dust, as harmful and attacks it. The body then releases chemicals such as histamine, which cause symptoms. Allergies are not contagious.

What are the Symptoms?
The most common symptoms of a cold are cough, runny or stuffy nose, and sore throat. Sometimes, body aches and fatigue occur. Rarely, itchy, watery eyes or a fever occur when you have a cold. The onset of cold symptoms will occur a few days after being infected with a virus.

Allergy symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and sometimes a cough, sore throat, or fatigue. A fever or body aches are never a symptom of allergies. The onset of allergy symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen.

Time of Year:

Though you can catch a cold during any time of the year, it is much more common in the winter months.

Allergy symptoms do occur throughout the year, although symptoms may increase during the spring and fall pollen seasons.

Duration of Symptoms:
Cold symptoms typically last between 5 to 14 days, with a gradual improvement of symptoms over this time.

Allergy symptoms can last days to months, or as long as you are exposed to the allergen.

While cold symptoms will clear up on their own, allergies require professional treatment. The professionals at Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates will provide individualized care for all of your allergy needs.