Cold or Allergies: How to Tell the Difference

Cold or Allergies: How to Tell the Difference

Cold or Allergies

Summer is winding down, and the seasons are set to change, which could mean for some that their seasonal allergy symptoms are set to return. The season of sniffles is about to be upon us, but how do you know if it’s a cold or allergies? The symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, so many may confuse the two, especially if their allergies develop as adults. However, despite the similarities, both conditions have different causes, and the symptoms experienced can vary in duration and type.

Being able to identify if what you are experiencing is a cold or allergies is essential, so the most appropriate treatment plan can be followed. To know if it’s the common cold, caused by a virus, or allergies, the body’s response to an allergen, you must learn what the signs and symptoms are for both conditions.

The Symptoms of a Cold:

• General body aches
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Coughing
• Stuffy nose
• Runny nose
• Low-grade fever
• Thick, discolored mucus
• Symptoms clear up in 7 to 10 days

The Symptoms of Allergies:

• Runny nose
• Stuffy nose
• Sneezing
• Red, itchy eyes
• Hives/skin eruptions
• Watery eyes
• Clear or watery mucus
• Symptoms last several weeks or longer

To help you tell the difference between the two, ask these questions to yourself to help determine if your symptoms are due to an allergy or cold.

1. Do your symptoms include skin eruptions, such as eczema or itchy, watery eyes? Itchy eyes and skin eruptions rarely happen with colds, so these symptoms are more indicative of allergies.

2. When do you experience your symptoms? Do you notice a pattern? If your symptoms tend to happen around the same time every year, or after a particular event (rain, cutting of the grass, etc.), then it’s likely to be allergies.

3. How long have you been experiencing your symptoms? Allergy symptoms may come and go, or persist for weeks on end, while a cold will only last a week or two at most.

4. Do your symptoms come out of nowhere, or did they come on gradually? When you develop a cold, symptoms tend to develop slowly over the course of a few days. Many can feel themselves getting sick, or a cold coming on. While allergies can come on suddenly, without warning, and can disappear quickly once an anti-histamine is taken.

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