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How To Know If Allergies Or Sick

Treating The Common Cold

Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since only kill bacteria, they won’t 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:

  • pain relievers, such as or

Cough syrups and OTC medications aren’t recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays aren’t 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.

Don’t 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 can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.

You Don’t Have These Symptoms

Colds and allergies share many of the same symptoms, so it can be tough to tell which one you’re going through. Because they share symptoms — such as coughing and congestion — it’s helpful to consider the symptoms that these two conditions don’t share. 

If you’re experiencing any of these , there’s a good chance you have a cold:

  • Fatigue
  • Severe headache
  • Sore throat

Another way to tell the difference between a cold and allergies is the duration of your symptoms. Colds usually go away on their own in seven to 10 days, whereas allergies persist until they’re treated or until the trigger is gone — which can take months depending on what you are allergic to.

If you know you’re allergic to pollen, you can try an app like Zyrtec AllergyCast to check the pollen counts and see if it’s a good idea to go outside. 

Is It Allergies Or A Cold

Cold and allergy symptoms often overlap, so it’s easy to mistake cold symptoms for allergies, and vice versa. Understanding the cause of your symptoms helps you choose the right treatment. It also gives you a better picture of your overall health.

Clinicians use the 5 factors below to help distinguish between colds and allergies.

Symptoms Of An Illness

Usually, babies under the age of 12 months haven’t yet developed allergies, so most symptoms will point toward a cold, which tends to exhibit symptoms more severe than those of allergies. If your baby experiences congestion, a fever, or fatigue, they probably have some sort of illness. A fever rules out allergies, since allergic reactions don’t cause fevers in children. Watch your child closely for any developments or worsening symptoms—if your baby has a fever for more than three days or if mild symptoms begin to worsen, call your pediatrician to rule out something more severe.

When To See A Doctor

Cold or allergies: How to tell what

It is not always easy to tell the difference between a cold and an allergy, so it’s important to know when to see a healthcare provider. If symptoms last for more than 2 weeks or if they are severe, it may be a good idea to see a doctor.

Doctors can identify allergy triggers through serum and skin tests. Once a specific allergen has been identified, an appropriate treatment plan is developed.

Allergies Follow A Pattern And Symptoms Tend To Stick Around Longer

If you have allergies, your symptoms will flare up at certain times throughout the year when the allergens you’re 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.

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 or stuffed up nose.

The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, , 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 . They’re caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or , for germs and mounts an attack on them.

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

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

Talk With A Doctor Or Clinician To Create A Personalized Treatment Plan

If you aren’t sure if it’s a cold or allergies, or if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, it’s best to connect with a care provider to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your allergy symptoms are left untreated, you could become more prone to getting sinus infections or other upper respiratory infections, or may lead to poor asthma control.

Also, a common cold can turn severe. So, if your cold has had you laid up longer than a day or two, get in touch with your doctor.

You have a couple options:

Make an appointment for face-to-face care from a primary care doctor or clinician. Whether you choose a video visit or in-person appointment, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan – including connecting you with an or an if needed.

Schedule an appointment

Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary – and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. We’ll ask you a few questions, and you’ll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner. Each visit is just $59 or less, depending on your insurance.

Heres How To Tell The Difference Between The Coronavirus And Allergies

If you have a fever , this is a big red flag that your symptoms may be associated with COVID-19 or another virus and not seasonal allergies. In response to an infection, your body temperature might increase in an attempt to kill pathogens. A higher temperature may also trigger your immune system to make more white blood cells and antibodies. “You should not get a fever with allergies,” Dr. Sindher says. “If my patients who have allergy symptoms are reporting fever, I’m concerned about an infection.”

Itchiness is another big differentiating sign between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies. Typically, itchiness and environmental allergies go hand-in-hand, Dr. Sindher says. This is because, in response to an allergy trigger, your immune system’s mast cells release , a chemical that can cause itching along with other allergy symptoms. If you’re overwhelmed with an itchy sensation after you, say, go outside to pick up groceries or go outside for a run, that’s a sign that you’re likely dealing with seasonal allergies.

Another tip is to trust your knowledge of your body. If you’ve had allergies in the past, you’ll likely be able to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing now align with the norm for you. If your symptoms are new, different, concerning, or you have any questions, it’s a good idea to reach out to a doctor.

Can Allergies Cause Itchy Eyes

It’s Probably Allergies If: Your mucus is clear or watery. And it will stay clear, instead of becoming thick or discolored like it can with a cold, says Michael Benninger, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Your eyes are itchy or watery. It’s rare to have itchy eyes when you have a cold. Your symptoms stay the same.

Are Your Symptoms Consistent With Covid

At the beginning of the pandemic, your travel history offered important clues, but this is no longer pertinent because coronavirus has been spreading in our communities.

Keep in mind that most people who get COVID-19 will be able to recover at home . However, if your symptoms are worrisome or severe, call your doctor or local hospital, or check with your local health department so you can be evaluated immediately, if that’s necessary.

Key symptoms: The more common and sometimes severe symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Two additional common symptoms are fatigue and loss of appetite. Less commonly, people may have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Some people report a lack of taste or smell. A significant number of people experience no symptoms .

Usually symptoms appear within five days after exposure, but it can take up to 14 days.

How can I be certain I have COVID-19? If you are concerned about symptoms, contact your doctor or your local board of health to find out whether you should be tested, and if testing is available near you. The criteria for getting tested are rapidly changing as more tests become available.

A Wet Hacking Cough Screams Cold

While a cough is common for both allergy flares and colds, the type of cough for each is different. A cold cough is wet and hacking, and often produces mucus or phlegm that gets progressively thicker, often taking on a green or yellow tinge.

Allergy-related coughs usually feel like you have a tickle in your throat. That’s because allergens often irritate the lining of your nose, which triggers your nasal passages to create a watery mucus. This can drip out of your nose and down the back of your throat, creating that tickling sensation.

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Feeling sick? Learn 5 ways to tell the difference between ...

Symptoms for season allergies, the common cold and coronavirus can overlap. In some cases, however, the symptoms can differ.

In the fall, Illinois’ top public health official warned that people should take notice of any potential coronavirus symptoms as they could be confused with seasonal allergies.

“I keep hearing from my contact tracers at the local health departments that they’re hearing the same story over and over: ‘I had no idea that I was positive. The symptoms I had I thought were allergy symptoms. I never would have thought it was COVID,'” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at the time.

Seasonal allergies can sometimes bring with them a cough and runny nose – both of which can be associated with some coronavirus cases, or even the common cold – but they also bring itchy or watery eyes and sneezing, symptoms that are uncommon in coronavirus patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both allergies and coronavirus bring with them the potential for a cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, fatigue, headaches, a sore throat and congestion.

Symptoms more associated with coronavirus than allergies include fever, muscle and body aches, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Allergies can occasionally be met with a loss of taste or smell.

The CDC reports that pollen exposure can trigger allergic reactions, such as symptoms of hay fever.

Are Your Symptoms Consistent With The Common Cold

In medicine we often say “common things are common,” and the common cold remains common even during this pandemic.

Key symptoms:Symptoms of the common cold are usually a runny, congested nose as well as a sore throat, headache, and generally feeling unwell. A mild cough due to postnasal drip and sneezing can occur, but itch would be less likely. More severe symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath, are not classic symptoms of the common cold.

How can I be certain I have a cold? A cold is usually diagnosed simply by assessing symptoms and without testing. Over-the-counter cold medications often can help with symptom control. The common cold will usually resolve within approximately one week of onset of symptoms.

Horizontal Nasal Line Indicates Possible Allergy

When children rub their nostrils up and down and wiggle their nose side to side, the movement creates a wrinkle or crease on top of their nose. Often, the line or crease is white or reddish in color. “If a child has been dealing with an itchy, sneezy, runny nose for weeks, and we see a horizontal line on the nose, we suspect allergies,” explains Dr. Lee. “That crease is pretty much exclusive to allergy sufferers who rub their nose.”

Common Questions About Allergies And Colds

Symptoms can vary widely. Ask these questions to help determine if you should reach for a product or curl up with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and rest:

How quickly did your symptoms strike?

Allergy Allergy An exaggerated response of the immune system to a substance that is ordinarily harmless. symptoms tend to hit all at once when you come into contact with an allergen allergen A substance that your body perceives as foreign and harmful; initiates the allergic reaction.. Symptoms of a cold sometimes appear one at a time and develop over a few days.

How long have you had symptoms?

Colds typically run their course within seven to 10 days. Allergy symptoms can last weeks or months. If your cold symptoms last longer than 10 days, talk to your doctor.

Have you been around sick people?

If co-workers, friends, family or classmates have had colds recently, there is a good chance the virus has been transmitted to you. Cold viruses are easily transmitted through coughing, sneezing and touching.

Where do your symptoms appear?

What time of year is it?


When To Call In Sick: Runny Nose

“A runny nose could be a symptom of many things, including allergies,” says Dr. Vivien Brown, a Toronto-based family physician and vice-president of medical affairs at Medisys Health Group. A runny nose could also be the beginning of a cold. Should you stay home or go to work?

Dr. Brown says it depends on how you feel.

Sari Friedman, a Toronto-based human resources consultant and career coach, says, “If someone is not feeling well enough to be productive at work then HR or the manager may suggest that the person go home.”

Heres What To Do If You Think Youre Dealing With Allergies

Managing seasonal allergy symptoms is no easy feat, especially if your allergies are severe and leave you feeling pretty miserable. One of the best things you can do is minimize your exposure to triggers. When it comes to seasonal allergies, the biggest ones are pollen and outdoor mold spores, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology .

Now that many of us are spending way more time indoors these days, avoiding these triggers may be somewhat easier than usual, but you probably can’t avoid them completely. This is particularly the case if you’re an essential worker or if your state is reopening and you’re not able to stay home because you need to make a living. Even if you are able to shelter in place, you probably still need to do things that would expose you to these allergens, like go buy food or pick up prescriptions.

If you know what medications work well for your seasonal allergies, Dr. Sindher suggests taking them during your usual allergy season even if you’re not experiencing symptoms. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to be able to shelter in place so thoroughly that you barely have to leave your home, which is great. But if you would normally be an itchy, sneezy mess right now, you should still follow your usual treatment as a preventive measure.

If you can get a jump on the situation by beginning your medication before the season that really inflames your allergies starts, even better.

Your Mouse May Have Common Colds

Just like humans, mice can have colds as well. Thankfully, most of the time, it goes away on itself. When your mouse is sneezing, has runny eyes, and is tired, it may be a symptom of colds. When this happens, make sure you provide fresh food and water at all times and sanitize the cage to prevent other diseases. Keep your pet in favorable temperatures, not too hot or cold. If the colds get worse, bring it to the vet.

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 don’t 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 it’s inhalers or nasal sprays, it’s 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 you’re 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.

Effect Of Weather Changes

How to Tell if You

If your child’s symptoms change with the weather, it’s probably allergies.

For example, ragweed counts usually decrease after heavy rain. If your child’s symptoms improve after it rains, they might be allergic to ragweed.

Or if their symptoms are worse on days that are windy, that might also indicate an allergy since pollen counts are often higher on windy days.

Heres What To Do If You Think The Coronavirus Is Causing Your Symptoms

First, try to get in touch with a doctor or medical professional via a resource like a state-run COVID-19 hotline so you can describe your symptoms and get advice on potential next steps, like and treatment.

If it turns out you do have the coronavirus, your focus should be on looking after yourself, knowing when to go to the E.R. , and reducing the odds that you’ll spread the virus to others. Here are some SELF stories that can help:

Ways To Tell If A Baby Has A Cold Or Allergies

Babies get sick more easily than adults because their immune systems haven’t fully developed. They tend to contract illnesses more often and more severely than older children and adults. Babies can also suffer from allergies, and it can be difficult for new parents to tell if their baby is sick or simply experiencing allergies. Babies can’t tell you what the problem is, so it’s up to the parents to read the signs and figure it out for themselves. Check out this guide on how to tell if a baby has a cold or allergies.

Go To Work Or Call In Sick

Sore throat, runny nose, high fever — which of these indicate you’re sick enough to stay home?

Statistics Canada reports that from 2008 to 2009, Canadians took a national average of seven sick days, with Quebec having the highest average and Alberta the lowest . Ontarians average six to seven sick days per year.

These guidelines should help you feel a little less guilty about staying home.

But if you’re feeling really sick, be sure to make an appointment to see your doctor.

Are Your Symptoms Consistent With The Flu

In the US, the flu season is coming to an end, whereas COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. So, flulike symptoms should prompt concern for COVID-19.

Key symptoms:Flu is characterized by fever, chills, muscle aches, and exhaustion. It classically comes on suddenly, as opposed to the more gradual onset of the common cold. More mild symptoms can also occur, similar to the common cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and headache. Vomiting and diarrhea are uncommon in adults, but can happen in children.

How can I be certain I have the flu? Flu is diagnosed based on a swab test performed by a healthcare provider. Prescription can limit the duration of influenza symptoms, but need to be started promptly. The flu vaccine is also an important part of prevention. The duration of symptoms is approximately one week, with symptom improvement occurring around five days.

How You Can Tell The Difference Between Allergies Cold Flu And Covid

March 14, 2020

Eyes watering? Runny nose? Feel like your head is locked in an ever-tighter vice?

Sounds like the start of seasonal allergies, maybe a cold or flu . . . but not COVID-19.

To keep anxiety levels down, and reduce the crush on local healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to know the difference between seasonal allergies or other illness and the more serious COVID-19.

“This novel coronavirus causes a respiratory illness manifested by fever, cough and difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, the chief of infectious diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain.

Pay particular attention to that combination of three symptoms. Less frequently, says the World Health Organization, a COVID-19 infection can produce symptoms similar to the flu like aches and pains, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion or diarrhea.




Allergies, unlike coronavirus, do not cause a fever and seldom shortness of breath. Yet the sneezing, runny nose, congestion and itchy, watery eyes are more than an inconvenience. Sometimes allergy sufferers don’t know whether they’re suffering from seasonal allergies, a nasty cold or even asthma that might require a doctor’s attention.

A cold usually reveals itself gradually. The flu can hit like an anvil.

“Flu symptoms will permeate the entire body,” says Dr. Bieluch.

There Can Be A Lot Of Overlap In Coronavirus And Allergy Symptoms

Allergies and viral infections can present in similar ways, especially nasal congestion, , sinus pressure, fatigue, and achiness, Tina Sindher, M.D., allergist with Stanford Health Care and clinical assistant professor at Stanford Medicine, tells SELF.

These similarities can make it challenging to know exactly what’s going on in your body if you start feeling sick while the COVID-19 pandemic is happening. Having a good understanding of coronavirus symptoms and signs of seasonal allergies is a helpful first step.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following common symptoms for the coronavirus:

  • Coughing
  • Swollen, discolored under-eye skin
  • Itching in your mouth, throat, eyes, or nose

Keep in mind that these aren’t all-inclusive lists, and you may experience other symptoms with both and seasonal allergies. For example, the more experts learn about the coronavirus, the clearer it becomes that the disease can sometimes cause gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea. But still, it’s good to have a solid understanding of the most common symptoms involved with both conditions.

Diagnosing Colds And Allergies

You don’t 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 , 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 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.


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