How to Tell the Difference between Cold or Allergies?

Let us understand “what is cold?”

Cold is also termed as ‘common cold’. It is caused due to virus. There are more than 100 varieties of cold viruses. The symptoms and severity varies depending on the type of virus, however the characteristics of cold are generally same with little variation.

The following points show some key features of the common cold –

  • Cold is passed on via air while sneezing, coughing or via touch.
  • The commonly noted sings include sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and cough.
  • Some also experience itchy eyes and sneezing.
  • In severe cases some may experience body ache and fever.
  • One can recover from common cold within 7 to 10 days. This estimation is supported by the study conducted at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
  • If the cold symptoms prolongs more than one week or two, then it may have progressed into an infection.
  • Those who are suffering with allergic reaction are more susceptible towards having colds.

You can suffer from cold at any time of the year. The NIAID has estimated that on an average, an individual may get caught up twice or thrice with common cold in a year. Moreover, the younger children might get affected more with colds than the older adults because they have weaker immunity.

Understanding “what are allergies?”

Allergic reaction ensues when the immune system exhibits adverse reaction to some substances.

After the body is exposed to certain triggers, the immune system recognizes it has harmful entities and produces histamines, the chemical as defense against these substances. The release of these histamines as a defense mechanism causes allergic symptoms.

The following are some important points that will help you know about allergic symptoms.

  • The symptoms of allergy are similar to cold. The allergic symptoms include sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, coughing and congestion.
  • The sore throat in allergic reaction is mostly caused after nasal drip.
  • Some individual may also suffer from rashes and itchy eyes.
  • Body pain and fever are not the symptoms of allergic reaction.
  • Generally, seasonal allergies are common, but an individual may also get attacked by certain allergens around the year. The allergy triggers are called as allergens and they include-
    • pollen from grasses, trees or weeds
    • dust mites
    • animal dander
    • mold
    • foods (milk, nuts and eggs)

Based upon the duration of symptoms you can differentiate between cold and allergic reaction. The symptoms do not disappear without any treatment or elimination from the original cause.

Some of the signs and symptoms of allergic reaction and common cold are similar, however these two health conditions differ a lot. After knowing the dissimilarity between these two conditions, you will be able to get the right treatment that will make you healthy and feel better sooner than later. Cold or allergic symptoms that do not improve with treatment, should be taken care of by your physician to eliminate any potential infections.

Treatment for Common cold – Your doctor may prescribe you to take cough syrup or decongestant sprays. Sometimes pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are given.

Treatment for Allergy – in case of allergic reaction, your physician may advice towards antihistamine therapy that includes Allegra, Zyrtec or Benadryl. These are the first line of treatment against allergic reaction.


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