Is It Allergies Or A Cold?

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woman blowing nose

Colds and allergies are common conditions that affect almost everyone. Although symptoms can be similar, the two conditions are very different. They result from different causes and vary in duration. However, most people can’t tell the difference between the two. A sneeze and runny nose get mistaken for a cold when it could be just allergies.

To treat your condition, it’s important to know what it is. Here’s how to tell the difference between allergies and a cold:

Cold Symptoms

  • Cough
  • General aches and pains
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny Nose with discolored mucus
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever

Allergy Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose with clear mucus
  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy skin/contact dermatitis

The two share some symptoms; however, the symptoms are not exactly alike. For example, a runny nose caused by a cold will be accompanied by discolored mucus. A runny nose caused by allergies will usually have clear mucus. Also, cold symptoms typically last for 7 to 10 days. Allergy symptoms can last throughout a whole season or year.

The main difference between a cold and allergies is that allergy symptoms usually include itching. It could be itchy eyes, nose, or skin. You will not experience this symptom with a cold.  

How Do You Treat A Cold?

Most people recover from a cold on their own within a week or two. Drinking liquids and getting enough rest usually does the trick. For those that wish to soothe symptoms faster, decongestants and cough syrups can help. If fevers last for more than a couple days, it’s important to visit your doctor. Colds can lead to bacterial infections, so antibiotics may need to be prescribed.

How Do You Treat Allergies?

There are many allergy medications to help you feel better. Over-the-counter allergy medications should be taken every day to help with coughing, sneezing, and itching. Immunotherapy is another treatment option for those who suffer from allergies year round. It comes in the form of a shot that injects you with a small amount of your allergen. It works best for pollen, dust mite, and insect venom allergies. Visit an allergist for an allergy test to diagnose your allergies and see which treatment will work best for you.

When Is It Time To Get Allergy Tested?

If your symptoms last more than two weeks, it’s time to get allergy tested. What you believe is a cold, could be your body developing a new allergy. Once you know what you’re allergic to, it’s easier to avoid that allergen and eliminate symptoms. The board certified allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers accept same-day appointments for allergy testing, because we know that faster diagnosis means faster relief.

Meet The Physician Collaborator  

Dr. Lisa Moreno is a trained allergist and immunologist that specializes in food allergies, asthma, sinusitis, and hay fever. She is board certified with the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and the American Board of Pediatrics. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Moreno by calling 212-686-4448.