Is It A Cold Or Allergies
Both allergies and colds can be miserable, leaving us feeling wretched and drained. As someone who has suffered from both, it can often be difficult to tell the difference at first.
Sometimes the time of year can be a tip off. Seasonal allergies have an obvious timing around our pollen seasons, but in the middle of winter, it can be difficult to distinguish a cold from an allergy to an indoor allergen such as dust mites, molds or our pets.
Allergies are almost always associated with itching of the nose, eyes and even the throat and ears. This is caused by the histamine released in an allergic reaction and the reason antihistamines are often helpful in allergies. Itching is uncommon with colds and viruses, which is the reason antihistamines usually dont help much during a cold.
On the other hand, colds are usually associated with a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle achiness. This can often be the best way to distinguish between a cold and an allergic reaction.
Both colds and allergies can otherwise cause many of the same symptoms with a running and dripping nose, sneezing, sinus pressure and headaches.
The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology is a great resource for questions on your allergies.
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.
Know Your Paths To Care
Were here to help you get better quickly, with tools and information for self-care and convenient options for visits or advice when you need it. Easy ways to get help for your cold or allergy symptoms include:
- Consulting Nurse Service: Call a nurse, who will assess your symptoms and recommend treatments or other next steps. Available 24/7.
- Online visit: Complete a questionnaire about your symptoms. A clinician will provide a diagnosis, treatment plan and, if needed, a prescription without a trip to your doctors office.
- CareClinic by Kaiser Permanente at Bartell Drugs:Walk in for care at 15 Puget Sound Bartell Drugs locations. Open 7 days a week with evening and weekend hours.
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Colds And Allergies: Whats The Difference
Many of my patients are not sure how to tell the difference between a common cold and allergies. Its easy to get confused, since colds and allergies share some of the same symptoms. Heres how you can tell if your symptoms are related to a cold virus or allergies:
- Duration: Colds dont usually last longer than 5 to 7 days, but allergies can last as long as youre exposed to the thing youre allergic to, the allergen.
- Onset of Symptoms: Cold viruses take about three days to cause symptoms. The sneezing, watery eyes, etc., from an allergy can happen as soon as you are in contact with the allergen.
- Allergy Symptom Characteristic: Allergies never cause a fever or body aches. The following symptoms are more common in allergy sufferers : itchy, watery eyes clear mucus that doesnt turn yellow and symptoms that are triggered when seasons change.
- Cold Symptom Characteristics: The following symptoms are more common in cold virus infections : cough sore throat thick, yellow mucus and winter-time onset. Unlike allergies, the common cold is often accompanied by fever and body aches.
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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Allergens And Their Effects
Postnasal drip is the main culprit in cases of allergy-induced sore throat.
Its the result of exposure to an allergen and occurs when congestion in the nose and sinuses drains down to the throat. This causes tickling or scratchy pain.
The drainage also can cause:
- runny nose
Scratchiness is another way to determine if you have an allergy-induced sore throat.
In addition to the raw feeling that results from postnasal drainage, particles that directly enter the respiratory system can cause an itchy or scratchy feeling.
Allergies Or Cold Here’s How To Tell
Seasonal allergies are nothing to sneeze at: You feel stuffed up, have a scratchy throat, and your head feels like it’s full of cotton. On the other hand, maybe you have a cold instead. Knowing the difference will help you determine treatment, experts say.
It took Vicky Pariso several seasons of discomfort to figure out which was making her feel under the weather every spring. Now the Manhattan-based sales rep, whose parents have allergies, says she can tell the difference by how her nose feels.
“With a cold, I feel it in my nose and with allergies, I feel it more behind the nose,” she says. “The sneezing is different, too.”
While her diagnosis may not be exactly scientific, there are ways to tell when you have allergies, and when you have a cold.
“The big difference is that with allergies, you always have itchiness,” says Dr. Cliff Bassett, vice chairman for public education for the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, who practices at Long Island College of Medicine in Brooklyn. “You nearly always have itchiness with allergies your eyes, your nose, your throat.” And, he adds, a seasonal allergy to ragweed or pollen does not cause a fever, while a cold can.
Finally, a cold comes on gradually, starting with sneezing, headache, lack of appetite and a sore throat, while with allergies, “You get symptoms almost immediately,” Bassett says. “And it doesn’t go away right away, while a cold will resolve within five to 10 days.”
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Acid Reflux And Ulcers
Acid reflux and heartburn are common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease . GERD causes acid reflux back into the throat and mouth. Acid irritates your throat and may cause pain as well. According to Dr. Robert Silge of HealthTap, acid reflux can cause itching of the throat, roof of the mouth as well as itchy ears. All these are associated with GERD. Ulcers may also cause these symptoms.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Allergies And A Cold
This time of year, its especially tough to tell what might be causing your sore throat: Is it allergies, a cold, or the flu? And as the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to spread, its more difficult than everone of its symptoms is a scratchy throat. Both allergies and viral infections can cause symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and congestion. How can you tell whats actually making you feel crummy?
The way your symptoms appear is often a big clue: Colds tend to creep up slowly, while allergy symptoms usually flare up shortly after youre exposed to an allergen, per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Meanwhile, if you start to notice itching, stuffiness, or an annoying tickle in the back of your throat after spending some time outside, youre probably dealing with allergies.
If your sore throat tends to get worse or makes it hard to swallow, or you develop a fever, chills, or body aches, youre probably dealing with a cold or infection, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. And if your allergy medications dont seem to be helping, thats also a sign your symptoms could be pointing to a cold, flu, COVID-19, or something else.
Unfortunately, they arent mutually exclusive: Colds and allergies can exist at the same time, Dr. Reisacher says. So if you cant figure out what youre dealing with, talk with your doctor.
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How To Treat A Sore Throat Caused By Allergies
Allergy meds are usually the best place to start. Antihistamines, like Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl, can help tame inflammation and ease your symptoms overall, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. Nasal sprays, like ipratropium, and nasal glucocorticoids, like fluticasone, are good for easing postnasal drip, too.
Natural remedies could also make a difference. Gargling with warm saltwater can help get rid of irritating mucus, and drinking plenty of water or inhaling steam may soothe scratchiness.
Of course, prevention might be the most effective tactic of all. Minimizing your exposure to allergenssay, by keeping your windows closed and showering as soon as you come inside after being outdoorscan keep your symptoms from flaring up and help stop that sore throat before it starts.
Does Everyone With Covid Experience Similar Symptoms
COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some people have mild symptoms, while others have severe illness. People who are fully vaccinated and contract COVID are less likely to experience severe symptoms. Symptoms may occur at different times during the infection, and do not always overlap. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. For some, symptoms can last longer than this period.
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What Causes Allergic Rhinitis
You have an allergy when your body overreacts to things that dont cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens. If you have allergies, your body releases chemicals when you are exposed to an allergen. One such chemical is called histamine. Histamine is your bodys defense against the allergen. The release of histamine causes your symptoms.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen comes from flowering trees, grass, and weeds. If you are allergic to pollen, you will notice your symptoms are worse on hot, dry days when wind carries the pollen. On rainy days, pollen often is washed to the ground, which means you are less likely to breathe it.
- Allergies that occur in the spring are often due to tree pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the summer are often due to grass and weed pollen.
- Allergies that occur in the fall are often due to ragweed.
Allergens that can cause perennial allergic rhinitis include:
Home Remedies For A Scratchy Throat
Home remedies are also great if youre looking for a quick way to relieve your itchy throat symptom temporarily. These include: 8
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Is It Allergies Or The Common Cold
More often than not, parents and teens will flock to the doctor at the sign of a scratchy throat only to find that they cannot be treated because they are simply having an allergic reaction. Many people fail to realize that a scratchy sore throat can be a precursor to the common cold.
Furthermore, a scratchy throat might stem from another form of irritation like stomach acid, a reaction to the dry air, pollution or an allergic reaction. While the trip to the doctor may seem wasted, it is never a bad idea to gain that peace of mind. The good news is that a scratchy throat is a conditional allergy and isnt something you will have to suffer from for the rest of your life. Furthermore, it is not typically a severe reaction and can be avoided by way of prevention and treatments.
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Allergies Could Be Causing Your Sore Throat According To Doctors
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Seasonal allergies are, to put it bluntly, annoying. By now, you know that a runny nose, watery eyes, and itchiness are all par for the course. But when you notice a tickle in your throat, its not always possible to tell if youre battling allergies or a cold. So, can allergies cause a sore throat?
Although you might not associate spring allergies with that telltale scratchiness, yes, allergies can cause a sore throat. In fact, this symptom is completely normal, says Omid Mehdizadeh, M.D., an otolaryngologist and laryngologist at Providence St. Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.
Your sore throat could actually be a side effect of overactive mucus productionbut theres still a chance it could be due to a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, especially with the Omicron variant running rampant. Here, doctors explain why allergies sometimes cause a sore throat, how to tell allergies apart from other conditions, and what you can do to start feeling better immediately.
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Can A Sinus Infection Cause Postnasal Drip Cough
Postnasal drip is when mucus from the nose and sinuses drips down the back of the throat. When the mucus drips into the throat, it can trigger a cough. Although this cough is often productive, it can sometimes also be dry. Postnasal drip often occurs with a sinus infection or due to a nasal allergy, such as hay fever.
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What Are The Main Causes Of Colds And Allergies
Common colds are caused by viruses, and therefore, represent an infectious process, whereas allergies are caused by our immune systems response to various environmental allergens, such as pollen, animal hair/dander, mold, and dust mites.
The causes behind this medical condition are easy to understand and known to most of us. However, the differences in the symptoms of colds and allergies can differ and get confusing sometimes. Paying heed to the time of the year can help in distinguishing a cold from an allergy. For example, when seasons undergo a transition, especially during spring and fall is when allergies are generally at their worst.
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Is A Scratchy Throat Contagious
Yes, scratchy throat could be contagious. It can be transmitted from one person to another by viruses and bacteria that are present in the infected persons saliva, nasal discharge or mucus. In fact, it can be transmitted by just coming into contact with the substances listed above whether it is directly or indirectly. Others may contact it by touching items that are contaminated like toothbrush or even towels.
How To Tell If You Have A Cold Or Allergies
Colds and seasonal allergies can feel pretty similar. And indeed, they do have some things in common. Both colds and allergies are caused by an invasion of what the body perceives as a potentially harmful substance, explains Joseph Dizon, MD, allergist at Kaiser Permanente in West Los Angeles. With colds, that substance is a virus. But with allergies, the substance is an allergen like pollen, mold, or dust.
The onslaught of symptoms we experience from a cold or allergies is the immune systems way of trying to fight off those invaders. And in both cases, its common to have congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, and a scratchy or sore throat, as well as headaches or sinus pain.
So how can you tell whats really ailing you? It might help to ask yourself the following questions:
– How did your symptoms start? Colds tend to come on slowly, usually over a couple days. Allergies kick into gear as soon as youve been exposed to an allergen.
– Are you itchy? Itchingespecially in your nose, eyes, or throatis often a classic sign of allergies, Dr. Dizon says. But its pretty uncommon for colds.
– Do you have a fever or body aches? Colds can cause both, but allergies dont.
– How long have your symptoms gone on for? Colds tend to clear up in a week or two. But if your symptoms stick around for weeks or even months, allergies are probably the culprit, Dr. Cutler says.
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Whats Making You Sniffle And Sneeze
Youâre sneezing and sniffling, and you feel crummy. Allergies may be your first thought, especially if you have a history of them. An allergy is when your immune system reacts to something harmless, like pollen or pet dander, as if it were a threat. Your body releases chemicals called histamines, which cause things like sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes. But allergies arent the only condition that can create these symptoms.
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Can Seasonal Allergies Make My Throat Feel Tight
Allergies are typically more serious than intolerances. They occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies something, such as a food or pollen allergen, as a threat to the body. The immune system releases chemicals to combat these allergens, leading to symptoms, such as a blocked nose or an itchy, tight throat.
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