How to Tell the Difference Between Cold Symptoms and Allergies
If you are feeling stuffed up, sneezy and sleepy, it may be due to either a cold or an allergy. Allergies and colds share a lot of the same symptoms, so it is often difficult to know the difference between the two. But, there's good news! Particular symptoms will help to determine which you are suffering through so you can get on the right road to feeling better.
Colds vs. Allergies
Even though a cold and allergies share some of the same symptoms, they are totally different issues that require different treatments. While the common cold is caused by a virus, allergy symptoms are due to an immune system response triggered by an exposure to allergens, such as dust, pet dander and/or pollen.
How to Tell the Difference
One of the easiest ways to identify the difference between a cold and allergies is by how long they last. The symptoms of a common cold will typically not last longer than ten days, but the symptoms of allergies can be bothersome for months on end. A few other ways to tell the difference between allergies and the common cold may include:
- When you start to notice the symptoms; allergies often make an appearance about the same time every year (during spring), while a cold is usually more prominent during the fall and/or winter.
- Varying symptoms. For example, if you have a cold, congestion and coughing are easy identifiers while itchy eyes, nose, mouth and throat are indicators of allergies.
- The type and color of mucus. The common cold typically produces a yellow colored mucus, while someone with allergies may have thin, watery secretions from their nose.
- Fatigue, muscle aches and fever are symptoms that are typically unique to the common cold, whereas with allergies it is a full day or more of sneezing.
Cold and Allergy Treatment
Figuring out what is causing your symptoms is half the battle. The treatment of common colds often includes rest and over-the-counter cold remedies, such as a decongestant and pain relievers. A cold typically lasts about three to ten days; however, some may last as long as two weeks. The treatment of allergies typically includes avoiding exposure to allergens when possible, nasal steroid sprays and decongestants and/or over the counter or prescription antihistamines. The symptoms of seasonal allergies may last from several weeks to several months.
To help prevent a cold, it is important to wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with others who are sick. Unlike allergies, colds are contagious. If you have a fever that just won’t go away, your cold symptoms last longer than ten days or if the allergy symptoms don’t go away or worsen, it may be something more complicated than just a cold or allergies. If you have any concerns about your symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek out the advice of a health provider.
If you aren’t feeling like yourself, whether you feel like you have a cold or allergies, contact PrimeCare Urgent Care, we can help you get back to feeling like yourself again.