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How To Differentiate Between Cold And Allergies

Treating The Common Cold

What is the difference between an allergy and a cold?

Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since antibiotics only kill bacteria, they wont work on the viruses that cause colds. Still, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms while a cold runs its course.

Cold remedies include:

Cough syrups and OTC medications arent recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays arent recommended for children under age 6.

Ask your doctor before taking any OTC cold medication, especially if you also take prescription medications, have any existing health conditions, or are pregnant.

Dont use cold medications for a long period of time. Using them for extended periods can cause side effects such as rebound congestion.

You can also try home treatments to relieve a cold, such as:

  • drinking more fluids like water, juice, and herbal tea
  • loratadine-pseudoephedrine

Decongestants come in pills and nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestants such as oxymetazoline can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.

Understanding The Differences Between A Cold And An Allergy

26 March 2020

Differentiating between a cold and an allergy can be difficult especially when you keep sniffling, have itchy eyes and a scratchy sore throat. Is it a cold or just an allergy? It is important to understand how colds and allergies are different so that youre aware of your ailment and can have a speedier recovery.

How To Avoid Getting Covid

A cold, the flu, and COVID can be avoided in the same ways. Washing your hands often, cleaning the frequently touched surfaces in your home, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick are preventative measures to avoid getting sick in the first place. Sinus infections are usually created by viruses that cause fluid build up in the face and sinuses so they can be avoided by these same preventative measures.

There are also things you can do to avoid infecting anyone else if you do get sick. Staying at home and avoiding others completely is the best way to stop the spread of one of these illnesses. Running an air purifier at home will also help to mitigate the spread of an illness within the household.

Thankfully, allergies are not contagious, but theyre still a common concern for many people. The worst of your allergy symptoms can be avoided if you know the pollen count in your area. Check the pollen count in your area with the MapMyAir or apple store app to avoid being outside all day on a high pollen count day.

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Notice What Time Of Year It Is

A common allergy for many is hay fever, which is an allergy to plant pollen. It will usually strike from February through June when blooming plants distribute their pollen. But the exact timing can vary depending on when plants bloom and release pollen. To suss out if the pollen counts are high where you live, check out the pollen map on the National Allergy Bureau website.

If sniffles hit during the wintertime and particularly if people around you have similar symptoms odds are you have a cold or the flu, not allergies, Arthur says.

Three Key Differences Between A Cold And Allergies

The difference between Allergies & Colds

By Amory Urgent Care

Weve all struggled with a cold at one time or another. Its one of the most common viral infections of the nose and throat. In fact, adults can catch between two to five colds each year, and children catch even more.

But if sniffling, sneezing and coughing symptoms last for more than 7 days , you may actually have allergies. As you age, your immune system naturally weakens, which means your bodys response to allergens also weakens. As a result, your body could trigger an unexpected histamine or allergic reaction. Histamine is a chemical inside our bodys cells that helps start the process of removing allergens from your body.

So even if youve never had allergies before, its important to keep track of your symptoms and their duration so you can identify one of the key differences that set allergies apart from colds.

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Allergies Vs Cold Symptoms

You may have noticed the symptoms for colds and allergies listed above are very similar, so how can we tell them apart?

One of the biggest differences between cold and allergies is their duration. Colds last about 1 week, whereas allergies can last much longer. Here are three key differences between cold and allergies:

  • FeverAllergies will never cause a fever. If you have symptoms that include a fever of any kind, you most likely have a cold or the flu.
  • Itchy, watery eyesWhile both the common cold and allergies can cause watery eyes, the key difference is whether your eyes are itchy. Itchiness in the eyes is a sign of allergies.
  • General aches and painsGeneral aches and pains are a symptom of the common cold and are not associated with allergies.
  • What Is Allergic Rhinitis

    Rhinitis means inflammation of the nose. the nose produces a fluid calls mucus, which is normally clear and thin, which helps to prevent dust, debris, and allergens out of the lungs. Mucus traps these unfavorable particles along with bacteria and viruses. Normally, mucus is almost always flowing, but you dont notice it because the amount is small. More mucus flows when the nose becomes irritated. It can become thick and pale yellow and may flow from the front and back of the nose simultaneously. Substances in mucus can irritate the back of the throat and make it sore, sometimes causing coughing. The thick mucus that drains is called postnatal drip.

    Irritants or allergens are called rhinitis. The body reacts to these irritants by releasing histamine and other chemicals that can make you feel miserable. Rhinitis is often temporary, clearing up on its own after several days. People with allergies often have chronic rhinitis, meaning that its always present or recurring often.

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    Take An Even Closer Look At Specific Symptoms

    Muscle aches

    Probably a cold, not allergies.

    Fever or chills

    Probably a cold, flu, or another more serious condition. Allergies dont cause a fever.

    Itchy eyes

    Watery eyes could be either allergies or a cold. But if your eyes itch, it typically indicates allergies.

    Notice the color of your mucus

    Clear and watery mucus is most likely due to allergies. If its thick and discolored, its probably a cold.

    If you experience prolonged symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare professional or allergist to ensure the right diagnosis.

    Can Allergies Turn Into A Cold Or Sinus Infection

    How can a person tell the difference between allergies and a cold?

    People sometimes wonder if allergies can turn into a cold or sinus infection. The first part of the answer is that allergies cant cause a cold. There are two different mechanisms at work an immune response to something that shouldnt cause a response in the first case and an appropriate response to a cold virus in the second.

    As for allergies and sinus infections, there can be a link in that allergies can affect sinus drainage, and its easier for an infection to develop if the sinuses arent draining properly.

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    How To Differentiate Between Allergies Colds Flu And Covid

    Cold season, allergies and viruses. The pandemic of COVID-19 It is not over yet and now it has to coincide with the arrival of low temperatures, allergens and other viruses that cause contagious respiratory diseases. Due to the similarities in their symptoms, it is possible to confuse colds with flu, allergies or with COVID-19. How can we differentiate them?

    In times of pandemic, all flu is COVID-19 until proven otherwise. In the event of any symptoms, maintain preventive measures, consult your doctor, do not self-medicate, and seek a diagnostic test for COVID-19. This is just a guide to the differences and similarities that some conditions share with others.

    The alergies

    The allergies can be generated by pollen, dust or strong odors, and that is their main difference with diseases such as COVID-19 or influenza, which are caused by viruses. According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal or seasonal allergies are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens such as pollen.

    Joselit Torres, allergist, specialist in immunology and president of the Venezuelan Society of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology , explained to Cocuyo effect that the cold season and environmental conditions can exacerbate the pictures of people with greater sensitivity to allergies.

    Unlike COVID-19, allergy treatment can include antihistamines , nasal sprays, steroids, or decongestants, as well as avoiding exposure to allergens. Seasonal allergies can last for several weeks.


    What Can You Do To Relieve Allergy Symptoms

    • Reduce the humidity level and keep the room temperature at 19°C.
    • Vacuum and dust regularly.
    • Wash your bedding in hot water every week.
    • Wear a hat and sunglasses to prevent pollen from landing on your head or in your eyes.
    • Use a nasal saline solution to wash away pollen you have already inhaled.
    • Use eye drops if your eyes are dry and itchy. Eye drops can help both with flushing pollen out of your eyes and moisturizing dry eyes.
    • Take RhinAllergy, a non-drowsy homeopathic medicine to relieve symptoms caused by seasonal allergies and environmental allergens such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and scratchy throat. Rhinallergy does not cause drowsiness as it does not contain antihistamines.

    This homeopathic medicine may not be right for everyone. Always read and follow the label.

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    How Is A Summer Allergy Different From A Cold

    The fundamental difference between colds and allergies is that the former results from the bodys immune system combatting a disease-causing virus. The latter, on the other hand, happens when the immune system incorrectly identifies an otherwise harmless protein like pollen, pet dander, or dust.

    Allergies typically cause a clear nasal discharge, accompanied by an itchy sensation in the sinuses, ears, eyes, or throat. Sneezing is not uncommon, nor is the feeling of stuffiness in the head. Its very much possible for your eyes to become red and irritated as a result of an allergic reaction.

    According to a primary care physician in Santa Fe, NM, the common cold may provoke certain symptoms that are not shared by allergies, such as sore throat, fever, or body aches. Also, a typical cold will run its course within seven to ten days. However, allergies can last for much longer, depending on what youre allergic to and what happens to be pollinating. As long as you are exposed to these allergens, you will continue to experience the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

    How To Differentiate Between A Cold And An Allergy

    Cold Or Allergies Suck!

    Certain symptoms of a cold overlap with allergies, such as a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. Colds are distinctively accompanied by other general symptoms, such as low-grade fever, malaise, fatigue, and decreased appetite. It is also possible that your runny nose begins to produce thicker discharge that may look yellow or green in colour.

    In addition, the symptoms that one generally experiences at the onset of a cold are more severe than those of an allergy. One might easily think of a friend, family member or colleague who passed on that cold to you. However, it is important to go see a health care practitioner if you start suffering from severe sinus pain, swollen glands or a high fever beyond 39 degrees Celsius that is accompanied by chills and extreme sweating.

    Additionally, symptoms of allergies tend to last longer and have a recurrent pattern, correlating well with exposure to certain triggers . Always be on the lookout for certain patterns that easily help in differentiating colds from allergies. Having prominent itching in the nose, throat, and eyes and sudden sneeze fits every year during the same period indicate that youre suffering from an allergy as these symptoms are not always common with colds.

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    How To Treat Allergies And A Cold

    Allergies are caused by your body’s immune system responding to a commonplace trigger, like pollen or cat dander. To fight off the trigger, your immune system releases chemicals called histamines that cause an allergic reaction.

    To treat allergies, you’ll need to either avoid the trigger altogether or take medications, like antihistamines, to counteract your immune system’s response. Antihistamines help by blocking the effect of histamines, hence the term antihistamine. This, in turn, helps relieve your symptoms.

    “Some people need to stay on antihistamines long term if they have year-round allergies,” Arthur adds.

    A cold is caused by a virus. There’s no cure that can treat the virus, but there are medications that can relieve your symptoms. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and reduce your fever, while decongestants will reduce congestion. Get rest and drink a lot of fluids.

    Keep Your Asthma In Check

    While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath have been symptoms associated with COVID-19, 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.

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    Treatments For A Cold

    Currently, there is still no cure for a cold. Treatment for a cold usually involves getting plenty of rest, staying well-hydrated, and using a humidifier to decrease congestion. Additional natural remedies can include:

    • Honey for anyone over the age of 1 year. Infants under 1 are at risk of developing botulism if they consume honey.

    Ways To Tell The Difference Between Allergies And A Cold

    How to tell the difference between COVID-19, flu, allergies and the common cold

    By DR. KAREN LATIMERSpring is finally here, and while we can look forward to warmer weather and beautiful colors and scents, we also have to contend with pollen. Those of you who suffer with allergies may be able to recognize the symptoms, but during the spring cold viruses are circulating as well.How can you tell the difference between a cold and allergies?

  • A cold is contagious and in many cases, you can identify the person who gave it to you.

  • Cold symptoms occur a few days after exposure to a virus, whereas allergies usually begin immediately after exposure to an allergen.

  • Colds last anywhere from 3 days to two weeks. Allergies last as long as you are exposed to the allergen. In the case of spring allergies, this can be months.

  • Even though you can get a cough with an allergy, it is more often a sign of a cold.

  • A very sore throat is more indicative of a cold.

  • An itchy, scratchy throat is more likely an allergy symptom, as well as itchy, watery eyes.

  • A cold can be accompanied by a low-grade fever. A fever is never a symptom of an allergy.

  • General achiness is common with a cold, but you will not experience this with an allergy.

  • Fatigue, while possibly present in both colds and allergies, may be more pronounced in the case of a cold.

  • If symptoms are severe or last longer than 2 weeks, see your doctor. He or she can rule out something more serious, and can help you manage your symptoms so you can enjoy this season of rebirth.

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    How To Tell The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies Symptoms

    First, consider the symptoms. Colds and allergies both lead to sneezing, sniffling, and congestion, Kristine Arthur, an internist at MemorialCare Medical Group, says. But there are some key symptoms that set each illness apart.

    Got an itchy sensation in your eyes or nose? That’s a tipoff you have allergies.

    On the other hand, if you’re suffering from a headache, body aches, and a mild fever, those are signature symptoms of a cold, not allergies.

    And while it might be gross, take a good look at your snot. If it’s thin and clear, you probably have allergies. But if it’s thick and discolored, then it’s probably a cold, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Treatments For An Allergy

    Doctors can identify allergy triggers through serum and skin tests. They can then develop an appropriate treatment plan.

    Salt is a natural decongestant. Therefore, a person can also use natural remedies such as a saline nasal spray to try to relieve allergic symptoms, including a runny nose or congestion. Another option is a nasal saline rinse with a neti pot.

    Other natural treatments that may help include:

    • eating a healthy balanced diet to boost the immune system
    • taking fish oil

    However, a person should always try such methods in consultation with their doctor.

    Prevention is also often part of a plan to treat allergies. Once the allergen has been identified, individuals should avoid it as much as possible. When avoiding an allergen is not possible, a person can treat symptoms differently from cold treatment.

    People can treat allergies with the following medications:

    • over-the-counter decongestants

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    How To Differentiate Between A Cold Or Allergies

    Can’t tell whether your congestion and sniffles are a sign of a cold or allergies? While like symptoms make it difficult to differentiate, there are a few key distinctions to note when looking at allergies vs. cold symptomsthe most significant being what actually triggers them. Summit Health internist Dr. Soma Mandal is among several experts who spoke to to explain how to discern between colds and seasonal allergies and the differences in allergies vs. cold treatment.


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