Cold vs Allergies: What’s the Difference?

Cold vs Allergies: What’s the Difference?

cold or allergy

A common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat caused by bacteria in the air breathed in. Many different types of viruses can cause the common cold. The illness is typically harmless and lasts approximately two weeks. An allergy is a reaction to pollutants such as pollen or pet hair. The body reacts to these triggers by producing antibodies and, in turn, causes various symptoms.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you have a cold or allergies. This difficulty may be because the symptoms are similar, and both can happen during the same time of the year. Though both can occur at any time, a cold is more likely to occur in the fall and winter, while allergies are more likely to occur in the spring or summer. Some of the most common symptoms of both a cold and allergies are a cough, runny or stuffed nose, sore throat, headaches, and a fever. People suffering from either illness do not have to have all symptoms to be sick. One for sure way to know if it is a cold or allergies is watching your surroundings. If a reaction occurs only around something like a pet, it is allergies.

Though many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are the same, quite a few are more common in one. Colds are more likely to cause symptoms like fatigue, fevers, sore throats, and pain. Allergies are more likely to cause itchy eyes, wheezing, and rashes. The duration of the illness can also be a way to know the difference between allergies and colds. Colds typically last a few weeks or less. Allergies will last until they are treated, or the trigger has been removed. A cold is frequently the cause of symptoms that appear gradually over several days. Allergies are most likely the cause of abrupt onset and disappearance of symptoms. Cold symptoms linger a week or two, whereas allergy symptoms might continue as long as the triggering allergen is present in the air.

The treatments are also different for each illness. Depending on the symptoms someone has, natural remedies such as drinking much water, gargling with salt water, and using a humidifier can treat your cold. If needed, there are also cough medicines available in most pharmacies and retail stores. If you have been diagnosed with allergies, there are many over-the-counter medications, sprays, and patches available. Or come by Keystone Healthcare and see one of our doctors.