Friday, May 24, 2024
HomePopularHow To Distinguish Between Allergy And Cold

How To Distinguish Between Allergy And Cold

How Long The Symptoms Last

What is the difference between an allergy and a cold?

Years ago, I had the opportunity to go on an overseas trip to France. Then, my first weekend there, I got hit with the worst allergies I had in my life. I did my best to ignore it, but they didnt go away. It wasnt until I went out and got medicine in a foreign land that I was back to my full self.

Theres a very key, underappreciated different between allergies and colds. With colds, your body will fight off the infection, with or without medicine, usually in under a week. Allergies are not as kind. If left untreated, they won’t disappear. Theyll continue hampering your life, day in and out, until a few weeks have passed.

If you believe you have a cold and the symptoms havent disappeared after a week, youve waited too long. Its always best to take some kind of medicine for a cold, even if youre only suffering from allergies, or vice versa. Your body will thank you for it.

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.

Reduce Pain And Pressure

Taking an over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce swelling and aching that stem from a cold or sinus infection. Rest is also one of the best ways to allow healing in the body, but change positions frequently enough to avoid the body becoming stiff . If you are suffering from a severe headache or headache lasting more than 5 days, see a doctor as soon as possible.

You May Like: Can Antibiotics Make You Itchy

Taking The Right Medication For The Right Illness

The best thing to do for cold or sinus symptoms during the first seven to 10 days is to treat the symptoms, not the illness. You can do this with medications such as:

  • Cough medicine
  • Pain reliever

Cold viruses dont respond to antibiotics, so taking them during the first seven days probably wont help. In fact, taking antibiotics when theyre not needed can increase your risk for being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other serious antibiotic related problems.

After seven to 10 days, when the symptoms are more likely to indicate a sinus infection, it may be time to ask your doctor about antibiotics. However, sinus infections can and do sometimes go away on their own, just like colds. Ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic or if the infection is likely to go away on its own without medication.

If your symptoms point to allergies, many effective medications are available over the counter to control symptoms, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. These medications work on all sorts of allergies because they suppress the bodys reactions to allergens, rather than treating the specific allergen. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, however, so be cautious of that when taking them. They also do not help stuffiness or pressure symptoms, so adding a decongestant plus a pain reliever as needed can help you ride it out.

How To Diagnose Your Cold Vs Sinus Infection


When symptoms become bad enough or last long enough that you want to seek medical advice, an experienced ENT specialist can diagnose what is causing your discomfort. A cold can often be diagnosed with a standard physical exam, and some viruses can be confirmed with blood testing if necessary.

If the doctor suspects a sinus infection, they may perform a rhinoscopy or endoscopy to view the inside of your sinus cavities with a thin endoscope device. Once it is confirmed that a sinus infection is the source of your symptoms the doctor can then work to determine the root cause of the infection, be it allergies, nasal polyps, or another underlying source. If allergies are suspected as the cause, testing can be completed to diagnose which allergies are at play. The best form of treatment for your infection will depend on the diagnosed source of the issue.

You May Like: Does Pseudoephedrine Make You Sleepy

What Are Summer Colds

The common cold is caused by any one of hundreds of different viruses that attack the upper respiratory system. Youve probably heard of rhinovirus, which is just one category of viruses that are one of the leading causes of the common cold. There are hundreds of different strains of rhinovirus that cause colds, but catching a specific strain of the virus could actually help you produce immunity to that particular strain.

Compared to seasonal allergies, colds are upper respiratory infections that could happen to you all year round but are more prevalent in the colder months. Colds arent caused by cold climates or exposure to cold air. Some of the common symptoms of colds include:

  • Body Aches and Pains
  • Sore Throat

Whats The Difference Between Hay Fever And A Cold: Symptoms Of A Cold

There are additional cold symptoms that are uncommon with allergies. If youre also experiencing any of the following, its more likely that you have a cold:

  • Aches and pains, which can include pressure in the face/ears.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sore throat.
  • Raised temperature, fever or sweating.

Aches and fevers are associated more with colds than allergies. Although the throat can be affected with an allergy or common cold, the feeling is often different its usually sore with a cold, and itchy with an allergy. The same goes for eyes colds or pollen allergy symptoms can include watery eyes, but theyre more common with an allergy, when they also tend to be itchy.

You May Like: Can Allergies Cause Headaches And Fatigue

Do You Have A Cold The Flu 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?

What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies Vs Colds

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

Because there is so much overlap between the symptoms of the common cold and flu versus those of seasonal allergies, here is a table to help you determine which youre suffering from:

Sometimes Rarely

Check your symptoms against those above. Then use the chart to determine where you stand. If youre suffering from an itchy throat, for example, it may be an allergy cough rather than a cough caused by a cold. If you have a headache that you can feel in your sinuses, it may be an allergy headache.

Dont Miss: Do Allergies Make Your Eyes Hurt

You May Like: Respiratory Allergy Profile Blood Test

How You Can Tell The Difference Between Cold And Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

With both allergies and colds, its typical to have congestion or a runny nose, and to sneeze often. You may also feel tired and drowsy. But there are several other symptoms that dont often overlap between allergies and a cold. Here are some of the telltale differences between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms.

How To Tell The Difference Between Allergies And A Cold

Content sponsored by

When you wake up with a runny nose and a scratchy throat, it can be difficult to determine the root cause of your discomfort. Before you know it, the tissues are piling up and you begin to wonder where you encountered the contagious germs that are surely to blame for your current condition. But before reaching for the cold medicine, take a moment to truly analyze your symptoms. It is possible that what you thought was a common cold is really allergies or vice versa.

The nuances can be subtle, but there are a few key differences between contagious viruses and seasonal allergies, and understanding these differences will help youget the care you need.

Also Check: Can You Take Allergy Medicine With Antibiotics

Sneezing And Sniffling: How To Tell If It’s Allergies Or A Cold

It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between allergies and a common cold. Both allergies and cold viruses tend to become widespread at certain times of the year, which is why you may mistake a cold for seasonal allergies.

Allergies and viral infections can cause rhinitis. The word rhinitis means inflammation of the nose. The nose produces fluid called mucus. This fluid is normally thin and clear. It helps to keep dust, debris and allergens out of the lungs. Mucus traps particles like dust and pollen, as well as bacteria and viruses.

How Is A Summer Allergy Different From A Cold

Podcast: The Differences Between COVID, Flu, Cold and ...

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.

You May Like: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

How To Tell The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies

a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and catarrh, and often occurring in epidemics.

In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.


A hot war is one that involved military conflict, a Cold war is a war where no fighting ever took place.


Find the highest temperature and subtract it by the lowest

8.9°C – = 22.3

The difference in temperature on the coldest and warmest day is 22.3°C

Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. They are unable to generate their own body heat and thus cannot regulate their own body temperature.

Mammals and birds are warm blooded, which means they can make their own body heat. They can do this when it’s too cold for them to survive outside.

Allergies Do Not Cause Fevers

People often wonder if allergies can cause a fever. The answer is no. Allergies cannot cause a fever, though you could have an allergy flare at the same time youre experiencing a fever from another infection.

With a cold, your temperature can run warmer, but typically it will be less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read Also: Can Allergies Cause Headaches And Fatigue

How To Tell Covid

Again, it can be very difficult to distinguish COVID-19 from the common cold, and the doctors we spoke to stressed that the only definitive way to tell them apart is to get tested for COVID.

That being said, there are some differences between the two that you might be able to recognize.

The most striking difference is that COVID-19 can cause a loss of sense and smell. Sometimes a common cold can inhibit your sense of smell or taste, but this is due to mucus build-up and congestion. According to research published in Rhinology, COVID-19 can cause a loss of taste and smell even without congestion. The loss of sense and taste may also be more severe with COVID-19.

In addition, says Dr. Williamson, COVID-19 can cause more serious symptoms at times, even in children. These symptoms may include a fever for several days, generalized fatigue, and breathing difficulties.

Moreover, COVID-19 symptoms usually take longer to develop after exposure. Whereas you can get cold symptoms 1-3 days after exposure, you can get COVID-19 symptoms up to 14 days after exposure, says Dr. Williamson.

Not only that, but COVID-19 symptoms often last longer than common cold symptoms. The symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks. Some children even develop long hauler symptoms, which may last several months, according to Dr. Williamson.

Allergies Follow A Pattern And Symptoms Tend To Stick Around Longer

Cold & Flu Treatments : How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold & Allergies

If you have allergies, your symptoms will flare up at certain times throughout the year when the allergens youre sensitive to are present. For example, if you have a tree pollen allergy, your symptoms will first appear in the early spring.

This also means that your symptoms can last for several weeks until that particular allergy season has ended. To put that into perspective, colds usually only last about a week.

Cold viruses are present all year, so you can catch one at any time. However, the winter cold season is when getting sick is more likely.

Don’t Miss: Can Seasonal Allergies Make You Nauseous

Differences Between Colds And Allergies

Besides differences in symptoms, there are three other ways to tell whether you have a cold or allergy:

  • Timing. Hay fever is seasonal, so the timing of your symptoms can help you work out if you have a pollen allergy or common cold. If you always experience symptoms at the same time of year , then its likely to be an allergy. Although you can catch a cold at any time, its more common in the winter.
  • Onset. When you have a cold, your symptoms tend to come on gradually, one by one. They usually start out mild, get worse and then ease off. In contrast, allergy symptoms typically come on quickly, all in one go, and stay consistent.
  • Duration. How long your symptoms last can also help you figure out whether theyre down to colds or pollen allergy. The common cold typically lasts for a week and should get better with rest. However, allergies dont get better until you remove the trigger or have treatment. Seasonal allergies like hay fever can last for weeks, or for however long the allergen is present.
  • Cold Vs Allergy In Children: How To Tell The Difference

    Colds are infections of the upper respiratory tract . They are caused by several different viruses. They are spread by:

    • Touching a person with a cold

    • Touching an object that someone with a cold has touched

    • Breathing the virus in the air after someone with a cold has coughed or sneezed into the air

    Seasonal allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds as if it were harmful to the body. This reaction causes symptoms that can seem like a cold. Allergies often run in families. Seasonal allergies occur at the same time each year. If your child has allergy symptoms all year, they may be allergic to things in the home. These can include dust mites, animals, mold, and cockroaches.

    The table below is a guide to symptoms. See your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.


    Read Also: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

    Treating Allergies And Colds Separately

    While allergies and colds are very similar in how they make you feel, they do require different medicines and choices to best get rid of them.

    When treating an allergy, although its technically not contagious, you should do your best to rest for your body to mount the most efficient defense. Supplement yourself, whether or not you continue working, with various drugs designed to counteract the allergy onslaught.

    Such drugs contain:

    How To Prepare For Allergy Season

    Clearing the Air

    If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you can manage your symptoms with over-the-counter remedies. Several types of nonprescription medications can help, including oral antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal spray. You can also relieve your allergy symptoms by doing the following:

    • Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
    • Close doors/windows and opt for air conditioning when possible.
    • Use HEPA filters for vacuums and HVAC systems.
    • Remove clothes youve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
    • Wear a pollen mask outdoors.
    • Clean floors often.
    • Use an air purifier and dehumidifier around the house.

    If these management options are not enough, see your doctor.

    Also Check: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

    Recommended Reading: What Allergy Medicine Is Stronger Than Zyrtec

    What Are Allergies

    Allergies occur when your immune system has an adverse reaction to certain substances. When youre exposed to an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, your immune system releases chemicals called histamines. This release of histamines is what causes allergy symptoms.

    Allergies and colds share some common symptoms, such as:

    Allergies are more likely to cause:

    • itchy eyes
    • skin rashes, such as eczema or hives


    Most Popular