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How To Tell The Difference In A Cold And Allergies

Differences Between Colds And Allergies

What is the difference between an allergy and a cold?

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.
  • What Is The Difference Between Allergies And Cold

    The difference is whether your sickness is contagious or not. Both of these conditions are caused by outside threats that your body reacts to by releasing various chemicals.

    A reaction to allergens results in your body reacting to pollen or mold thats entered your system and releasing chemicals to flush them out. Among some of these chemicals are antibodies and histamines, which then give you runny noses and watery eyes as they try to get rid of any intruding foreign bodies. Inconvenient and uncomfortable, but not harmful for the general populace.

    While a cold abides by many of the same bullet points, as it is also a outside threat that your body reacts to with chemicals, its more like the real thing. If an allergic reaction is a false alarm, then a cold is what your body is really expecting. A cold is caused by a virus invading your system, and all that discomfort is caused by your body fighting it off. And, unlike with allergies, a cold can be transferred to the people around you.

    If anything, its good that you feel bad. It means your bodys working, and its doing a brave and heroic job.

    Cold Flu Allergies Or Covid

    With COVID-19 hitting at both the end of cold and flu season and the start of allergy season, it can be difficult to know what your symptoms are telling you. While theres a lot we dont yet know about COVID-19, there are key symptoms to check for, so lets talk about which symptoms you should look out for and which ones indicate a cold, the flu, or allergies.

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    Difference Between Head Cold And Allergies

    Colds are caused by viruses. There are many different viruses that can get in your body and your immune system attacks it and tries to knock it out. The symptoms you experience are caused from the attack of your immune system. The congestion, coughing, runny nose and discomfort are symptoms of your cold. Colds are spread easily by germs. Coughing, sneezing and touching door knobs spread the germs and coming in contact with those germs allows the virus to spread to you. A cold will last up to two weeks.

    Understanding Colds And Allergies


    A cold, also called the common cold, is a form of virus. There are more than 100 different types of cold viruses in the environment. Most types share similar characteristics, with certain changes in the symptoms and severity of the condition. A cold can be easily passed from one person to another through the air by sneezing, coughing, or touching someone else with contaminated hands.

    The common symptoms of a cold are a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough. A person suffering from a cold will rarely experience itchy or watery eyes. If the cold gets severe, it leads to a rise in body temperature, followed with pain in the body. For those suffering from a cold, recovery happens quickly enough–7 to 10 days on average. However, if the symptoms last more than a week, it could be a different type of infection.

    People can catch cold anytime of the year, although it is more common during the colder seasons, i.e., fall and winter. Young children have a tendency to catch cold far more easily than adults, since their immune systems are not as developed as those of adults and therefore weaker. Individuals suffering from some kind of allergy may also still come down with a cold, further exacerbating their symptoms.

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    Common Questions About Allergies And Colds

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

    How quickly did your symptoms strike?

    AllergyX 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 allergenX 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?


    How Can I Tell The Difference Between Covid

    With the easing of restrictions we still need to be diligent in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID. Having said this, we are well into summer allergies and colds. Its good to know and understand the differences.

    There are some symptoms that are similar between these respiratory illnesses. This chart can help you figure out if you may be feeling symptoms of allergies or a respiratory illness like COVID-19. If you have a fever and a cough, please call 811 or your doctor.

    Sample Content. Double-click here to edit.

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    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. “Allergies may feel extra intense for the first day or 2, but you’ll have the same symptoms day after day,” Benninger says.

    You’ve had the sniffles for more than a week. A cold usually clears up in 7 to 10 days, but allergies can last several weeks or longer.

    Your symptoms show up only in certain situations. Find yourself sneezing every spring or fall? Those are common times for allergies. Another allergy tip-off: Being in a specific place makes you feel miserable — for example, in a house with a cat.

    When To Reach Out To The Doctor

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

    It is not easy always to tell the difference between a cold and an allergy. Therefore, the best thing to do, especially when the symptoms tend to worsen or last more than two weeks, would be to reach out to a doctor for a diagnosis. Doctors can quickly identify the difference and say whether the symptoms are due to an allergy by conducting a skin patch test or a skin prick test. Once the doctor identifies the allergen that has been causing trouble, they can prescribe you the appropriate treatment plan.

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    Can I Prevent Myself From Getting Allergy Symptoms

    In terms of preventing allergic reactions, the first step is to find out what youre allergic to. Doctors who specialize in allergy and immunology can help patients discover what might be causing their specific allergies with skin, patch, and blood tests. For example, sometimes its difficult to know if your allergy trigger is pollen, pets, mold spores, or a combination of different triggers. Once you have an understanding of your allergy trigger, its best to avoid contact with them as much as possible. Depending on the category of allergy that you have, you may want to try the following:

    Its 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. Its rare to have itchy eyes when you have a cold.

    Your symptoms stay the same.Allergies may feel extra intense for the first day or 2, but youll have the same symptoms day after day, Benninger says.

    Youve had the sniffles for more than a week. A cold usually clears up in 7 to 10 days, but allergies can last several weeks or longer.

    Your symptoms show up only in certain situations. Find yourself sneezing every spring or fall? Those are common times for allergies. Another allergy tip-off: Being in a specific place makes you feel miserable for example, in a house with a cat.

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    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.

    Common Symptoms Of Colds Sinus Infections And Allergies

    How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and Allergies ...

    Many people have been told that the following symptoms are signs of a bacterial sinus infection as opposed to a cold:

    • Facial pain and headache
    • Discolored mucus or sinus drainage
    • Severe nasal congestion
    • Fever

    But in reality, these symptoms dont help us distinguish one condition from the other, at least in the first week to 10 days. Generally speaking, all of the classic symptoms of a sinus infection can be present in a cold.

    If youve had these symptoms for fewer than seven to 10 days, theyre almost certainly signs of a cold virus. When people have these symptoms for more than seven to 10 days without improvement, thats when we start thinking it might be a bacterial sinus infection. It is also very unusual for a cold, or other viral upper respiratory illness, to worsen after five days. This suggests a transition to a bacterial process. This is important because antibiotics should only be used when a bacterial process is suspected.

    The symptoms of allergies dont normally include fever or a lot of discolored sinus drainage. Classic allergy symptoms may include:

    • Cough
    • Scratchy or low-grade sore throat
    • Sneezing

    Some of these are similar to cold or sinus symptoms. The difference is that allergy symptoms dont follow the course of a cold, which runs through its symptoms as the cold progresses. Allergy symptoms are more consistent than cold symptoms. There is often a pattern to the symptoms related to a change in the indoor or outdoor environment .

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    Allergies Vs Cold Symptoms: Whats The Difference

    • ENT Institute

    Nowadays, when you or someone you know is sick, theres a level of concern about what it is, whether thats allergies, the common cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or COVID-19. There are distinct differences between each one that you should know so you can stay ahead of whats ailing you. For this blog, were focusing on allergies vs cold symptoms .

    The differences between allergies and the common cold are subtle but can be spotted pretty quickly. The issue with either of these is that if ignored, they can turn into a dangerous sinus infection.

    But lets start with allergy symptoms and go from there.

    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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    How To Tell The Difference Between Covid

    Allergy and sinus symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. An otolaryngologist explains how to tell them apart and when you should seek treatment.

    Allergy season has become more complicated since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have allergies or sinus problems, you may not be sure how to tell the difference between those symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms. Jessica Southwood, MD, otolaryngologist, offers expert guidance to help you better understand these three conditions.

    Since sinus and allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms can seem similar and have some overlap, it is important to familiarize yourself with the differences. That way, you and your provider can manage your health care appropriately.

    What Is A Cold

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    Although allergies share many of the same symptoms as colds, colds are different. Cold symptoms occur when a virus gets into your body and your immune system attacks it. This can cause some of the same symptoms such as sneezing and nasal congestion, also seen with allergies.

    But there are some key differences. Germs that cause colds are contagious. You can become infected when someone with cold symptoms sneezes, coughs, or touches you.

    Luckily, cold symptoms tend to disappear in 7 to 10 days. If cold symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, consider contacting your doctor.

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    Is It A Cold Sinus Infection Or Allergies How To Tell The Difference

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.

    It can be tough to tell the difference between a cold, a bacterial sinus infection and allergies. In fact, thats probably one of the questions people ask doctors most frequently in this country. Theres a lot of confusion about what the signs are for these conditionsfrom patients and their doctors alike.

    Recognizing the variations between these three conditions is important. The treatment strategies for a cold are unlike those for a bacterial sinus infection. And treatment for allergies is different still than treatment for the other two.

    Lets go through the symptoms that people often are confused about, as well as the process of deciding which condition a patient may have and what we need to do about it.

    Is It A Cold Or Allergies

    Its often hard to tell the difference between a cold and allergies. Both can cause similar symptoms, such as a runny and/or stuffy nose, sneezing, fatigue, and a sore throat. However, there are some differences that might help you tell if its allergies vs. a cold.

    Simply put, colds are infections caused by viruses. Colds can be contagious up to two days before symptoms start and can last two weeks after exposure to the virus. Allergies, on the other hand, are not contagious, and the symptoms you experience are your immune system’s reaction to allergens, such as pollen.

    Take our simple allergies vs. cold quiz to learn the differences between cold and common allergy symptoms.

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    When Should I Seek Treatment For My Toddler

    If you suspect your toddler has a cold, the vast majority of the time you can manage the symptoms at home while your childs cold resolves. Make an appointment to see our team at Valencia Pediatrics if your young childs condition doesnt improve after a couple of weeks or if your toddler develops a high fever.

    If you think your toddler might have allergies, its important to make an appointment with Dr. Valencia. Allergy treatment from a pediatrician will allow your child to manage potentially life-disrupting and life-threatening symptoms.

    At your appointment, Dr. Valencia performs allergy testing to determine what materials are causing your childs allergies if you arent certain. Then, Dr. Valencia develops a personalized plan to manage your toddlers allergies.

    Dr. Valencia, with Micaela Marin-Tucker, PA-C and Megan Reynolds, C-PNP, offers specialized allergy treatment along with general pediatric care to children and adolescents. our office today to schedule allergy testing and management for your child.

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    If your child seems to constantly have a runny nose, cough or congestion, you are not alone.

    “It’s not unusual for kids to get six to eight colds per year, lasting from 10-14 days,” explains Michael Lee, M.D., a pediatrician with Children’s Health. “Additionally, seasonal allergies have become more prevalent.”

    So how can parents tell if it’s a cold or allergies? Dr. Lee explains the difference between causes and symptoms in kids.

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