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Can Bad Allergies Feel Like A Cold

What Does A Cold Look Like

Is It a Cold or Allergies?

When you have a cold, this means your body is fighting off a viral infection in your upper respiratory system. There are over a hundred types of viruses that can cause the common cold, which is also known scientifically as rhinitis. These illnesses are spread either by exchanging contaminated water droplets in the air or by touching surfaces where the virus is lingering.

Most adults get between two to four mild colds per year, but certain factors such as smoking or a weakened immune system can increase your risk. The areas most affected by a cold are typically the nose, mouth, throat and lungs, but full body aches and other discomforts can also be experienced because of the virus. Cold symptoms often appear one to three days after exposure to the virus, and should resolve within 5 7 days.

Symptoms of the common cold often include:

  • Runny nose
  • Fever

Diagnosing Colds And Allergies

You dont need to see your doctor for a cold, but if you do make an appointment, your symptoms will likely be enough for them to confirm your diagnosis.

If your doctor thinks you might have a bacterial infection such as strep throat or pneumonia, you might need other tests such as a throat culture or chest X-ray.

For allergies, you may need to see a primary care doctor, an ear-nose-throat doctor, or an allergist. The doctor will first ask about your symptoms. Severe or life-threatening allergic reactions often require the care of an allergy specialist.

A variety of tests can be used to diagnose allergies. A skin test can be used to determine your allergy triggers. Sometimes primary doctors or allergy specialists may also use blood tests to diagnose allergies depending on your age and other health conditions.

Stress The Root Cause Of Your Cold

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Can stress be the root cause of your cold symptoms?

Daylight Saving Time officially ended this past Sunday and grogginess and fatigue are common side effects. Having said that, with a week nearly having passed, you should be feeling back to normal by now. However, if feeling tired and ill has become an everyday factor in your life, then there may be some very important dots to connect.

Its very easy to look at symptoms as isolated incidents. You might think, oh, Im just not feeling well, or Ive just got a little hint of the flu. But the aching muscles, sniffling nose, general fatigue, and lack of motivation can also be symptoms of stress.

Noticing patterns in your life can be far more difficult than it sounds. We often like to think that we know ourselves better than anyone else, but it can be easy to overlook how certain events and circumstances in your lifework, finances, relationshipsmight be adversely affecting your health.

I bring this up because Wednesday was National Stress Day in the United Kingdom, but as you know, stress is a major part of American life as well.

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Clinical Contributors To This Story

Parneet Grewal, M.D. contributes to topics such as Family Medicine.

You might expect to have a scratchy throat and a runny nose in the dead of winter, but on a beautiful summers day, these symptoms seem out of place . It is possible to experience the common cold during the warm-weather months, but the symptoms may actually be a sign that you have allergies, not a cold. How can you tell the difference when youre feeling lousy?

Although colds and allergies have some overlapping symptoms, there are reliable ways to tell them apart, including the presence or absence of certain symptoms and the duration of your discomfort, says Parneet Grewal, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group.

Summer colds can be different

Most people who get colds in the winter are infected by common viruses known as rhinoviruses, which are most active during the chillier months. Youre less likely to be exposed to, or become ill from, rhinoviruses when its warm out.

Instead, a different type of virus causes colds more often during the warmer months: Enteroviruses. Theyre less common than rhinoviruses overall, but theyre more prevalent during the summer.

Seasonal allergies can pop up during the summer

Many people with seasonal allergies experience discomfort during the springtime, when trees pollinate. But some people are allergic to grass or ragweed, which can cause allergy symptoms well into the summer.

COVID-19 symptoms mimic some cold and allergy symptoms

Can Allergies Make You Feel Like You Have A Bad Cold

What

Hi All!Guess what, two days no eye twitch! Yay, but now I think Ive got another cold on top of the flu, and for me thats pretty much ruining me. Im wondering however if maybe its allergies?Ive got a blocked, congested nose, sore eyes, sneezing lots, my eyes feel red and itchy but they dont look red. Im tired and have a croaky voice and a scratchy red throat. I feel pretty miserable, to be honest, but I thought allergies just gave you symptoms without actually making you feel sick. Can allergies actually make you feel miserable and how would you know the difference?!

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What Are My Treatment Options For Colds

Unfortunately, there is no cure for a cold virus once youve been infected. The good news is that there are many over-the-counter medications and products that can treat your symptoms. If extra rest, drinking hot fluids, nasal irrigation, and saline gargles and washes are not enough to manage your cold symptoms, you could benefit from:

Always read the Drug Facts label on all types of medications before you take them. Its possible that some active ingredients may be in more than one medicine. Also, please note that young children should not be given certain cough and cold medicines check with your pediatrician before giving any medicine to young children and babies.

Its important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best allergy management strategy, depending on your living and work environment and unique sensitivities. With careful diagnosis and treatment, most people can find a way to manage their allergies successfully. Dont lose heart if youre struggling with allergy symptoms a physician can help you develop a plan to improve your situation. And if you have a cold instead of allergies be encouraged that most cold viruses fully resolve in a week or two, and that rest, fluids, or OTC medications can help you manage your symptoms more comfortably.

The Difference In Duration Of Symptoms

Typically, a cold lasts for around seven to 10 days, with the most severe symptoms beginning to improve after a few days. Allergies, however, if left untreated, will cause symptoms for as long as the allergen is present. So, if your cough doesnt start to get better after a week, your symptoms may not be caused by a cold.

Asthma, on the other hand, can come and go quickly. Attacks may come on suddenly and subside quickly. Mild episodes may last for minutes, but more serious attacks can last for days.

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Allergies Have Chronic Symptoms

COVID-19, like the flu or common cold, is an acute illness, meaning people feel fine until symptoms start showing up.

Allergies, on the other hand, are usually chronic, presenting with symptoms off and on for weeks, months, or even years, Dr. David M. Cutler, family medicine physician at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Healthline.

Allergies should not cause a fever or body aches, Arthur said. Generally, no cough unless you have a lot of nasal drainage.

Allergies may also cause wheezing, she added, especially in people with asthma.

Allergy symptoms tend to vary with the environment: worsening with exposure to dust, pollen, or animal dander, whereas cold symptoms tend to persist regardless of time of day, weather, locality, or other environmental factors, Cutler said.

Also, as with COVID-19, Colds are more likely to have generalized symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches, whereas allergies usually affect only the respiratory tract, Cutler said. Allergy symptoms tend to improve with antihistamine and other allergy-specific medication. Colds are more likely to respond to decongestants, acetaminophen, fluids, and rest.

The CDC issued guidance on the differences in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies.

The agency noted that things such as shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, headache, and sore throat can be symptoms of either COVID-19 or allergies.

Symptoms Of Allergic Rhinitis

Mayo Clinic Minute: Is it a cold or allergies?

Allergic rhinitis typically causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose.

These symptoms usually start soon after being exposed to an allergen.

Some people only get allergic rhinitis for a few months at a time because they’re sensitive to seasonal allergens, such as tree or grass pollen. Other people get allergic rhinitis all year round.

Most people with allergic rhinitis have mild symptoms that can be easily and effectively treated.

But for some people symptoms can be severe and persistent, causing sleep problems and interfering with everyday life.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis occasionally improve with time, but this can take many years and it’s unlikely that the condition will disappear completely.

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What Are Colds And Allergies

They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. There are hundreds of different types that can get you sick.

Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system, the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. It’s this response that brings on the classic symptoms like a cough or stuffed up nose.

The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.

It’s a different story with allergies. They’re caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or pollen, for germs and mounts an attack on them.

When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start sneezing and coughing.

Unlike colds, allergies aren’t contagious, though some people may inherit a tendency to get them.

Signs Your Allergy Symptoms Are A Sign Of Something Much Worse

Find out when you should stop blaming spring and call your doctor.

When it’s spring, you might be inclined to write off that congestion, coughing, and sneezing as “allergies” rather than admit that you’re sick. While an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from Real Seasonal Allergies, it’s notoriously difficult to figure out what actually triggers certain symptoms.

Pull the ol’ allergy card, and you could end up ignoring a more serious diagnosis and deter yourself from getting to the bottom of it ASAP.

“The treatment for allergies is so different from the treatment for the flu or a cold,” says Beth E. Corn, MD, associate professor of clinical immunology at the Allergy and Immunology department of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If you treat a viral infection with antihistamines , you subject yourself to side effects such as loopiness when all you really need is cough syrup and lots of liquids, Dr. Corn explains.

“The quicker you find out what it is, the sooner you can make interventions to feel better,” Dr. Corn promises. So look out for the signs your symptoms aren’t allergies, but an actual, potentially contagious illness like a sinus infection, cold, or the flu.

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Start With Some Home Remedies For Cold And Allergy Symptoms

When you start feeling icky, some simple home remedies can provide temporary relief. For starters, try to get more rest. Both allergies and colds can cause tiredness, so listen to your body and take it easy.

Also, take advantage of saltwater to soothe irritated nasal passages and scratchy or sore throats.

For your nose, use a neti pot. A neti pot can be picked up at any local drugstore or online, and typically comes with packets to mix with warm, distilled water to create a saltwater solution to pour through your nasal passages.

For your throat, simply mix a quarter or half teaspoon of table salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Take a sip and gargle for a few seconds like you would with mouthwash. Then spit and repeat until the solution is gone. You can do this a couple times a day.

When To See A Gp

Is it Allergies or a Cold?

Visit a GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.

A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will usually be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may have noticed.

If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing.

Also Check: Can Allergies Cause Headaches And Fatigue

Keep Your Asthma In Check

While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath have been symptoms associated with coronavirus, it can also be signs of asthma that can flare up with the allergy season. If you dont have a fever present with these symptoms, asthma could be the culprit.

People with asthma need to stay on top of their treatment, says Dr. Benninger, especially since people with respiratory issues are at a higher risk of potentially severe illness from coronavirus. Whether its inhalers or nasal sprays, its important to be up to date on their medication and proper usage.

Dr. Benninger also recommends starting allergy medications early in the allergy season rather than waiting for the worst part.

If you can prevent the symptoms from worsening, then youre much more likely to have less difficulty when you get to the time of the season when allergies tend to get out of control, he says.

Addressing The Root Causes Of Stress May Help Tackle Cold And Flu Symptoms

As important as it is to treat the symptoms of stress, which Ill address momentarily, the key to beating it is addressing its root cause.

To get a handle on your stress, its important to recognize the various situations in your life that are creating stress and notice the connection they might have as to why youre feeling under the weather. Sort out what is causing stress and then categorize them into several categories .

You might be surprised, but the things you cant control are relatively easy to let go of. If you cant control something, dont let it eat at you.

For the things you can control, come up with an action plan to make them less stressful. The solution could be something as easy as coming up with a schedule, dropping a bad friend, or spending more time with good ones!

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Your Eyes Are Itchy And Watery

While you might notice some redness or discomfort around your eyes when youre sick with a cold, its more likely that allergies are causing eye symptoms like watering and itching, Dr. Rosenstreich says.

Your nose and throat might feel itchy with a cold, says Dr. Metcalfe, but a cold usually doesnt affect the eyes. Allergies may also cause some swelling around the eyes, adds Dr. Parikh.

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Do You Have A Cold The Flu Or Allergies

How To Tell If It’s Coronavirus, The Flu, A Cold, Or Allergies

The above table details the symptom differences between all three conditions.

The common symptoms of a cold, flu and allergies are a stuffy or a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, a cough, a headache, or even fatigue. Two differing symptoms are a fever or aches/pain, these would not be caused by allergies, but could be due to a cold or the flu. Symptoms of the flu are often more severe than a cold.

While the symptoms are similar, the origin of the conditions are different. A cold and the flu are both caused by different viruses, whereas allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to a trigger. Common inhalant allergy triggers are pollen, dust, mold, pet dander.

See related: Is it a cold? Or is it Allergies?

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Allergy Symptoms You Need To Stop Ignoring

Take care of your allergies before they take care of you.

Stop for a second to take a look around. No matter where you are right now, odds are that at least one person nearby is dealing with some sort of allergy. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, and more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies annually.

But just like any other health condition, it’s not always easy to spot when an allergy attack is happening. Typical symptoms of allergies like a runny nose and watery eyes often get confused with a cold or the flu, and people don’t always know to look out for less common and more serious symptoms like headaches, a swollen tongue, and hearing loss. Herein, we spoke to allergy experts to round up some of the most commonly ignored allergy symptoms that people need to pay attention to.

What Causes Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is caused by the immune system reacting to an allergen as if it were harmful.

This results in cells releasing a number of chemicals that cause the inside layer of your nose to become swollen and too much mucus to be produced.

Common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis include pollen , as well as mould spores, house dust mites, and flakes of skin or droplets of urine or saliva from certain animals.

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