Cold Or Allergies?
April 12, 2014

Cold Or Allergies?

I have never had allergies in my life, until last week. At first I wasn’t sure if I just had a cold though. I was especially worried since a girl that I work with had just been diagnosed with mono. Sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes are common symptoms for many people during this time of year. How do you know if this person constantly blowing their nose is contagious or not? Allergy season is now reaching its peak in many areas. Allergies often have many similar symptoms to the common cold, but there are a few key differences that can help distinguish the two from one another.

According to WebMD, colds and allergies often share many of the most common symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion or even fatigue; however, one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a cold and allergies is through the other symptoms that are present. If you have a fever or body aches, that is almost definitely a cold. If you have itchy eyes, that is almost definitely allergies. These symptoms are not common for both problems, and therefore can serve as identifiers to help diagnose. Another big indicator is in the color of mucus. Sure, you might have a runny nose that you have to constantly blow throughout the day, but is that mucus a clear color, or does it have the yellow, green or brown tint that indicates an infection? If it is clear then you are probably suffering from allergies, rather than something more sinister.

Another indicator of what is going on with your body can be the time period of the symptoms and the time of year. While a cold and allergies can affect anyone at any point in their life, a cold usually only lasts for a week or two. Allergies, however, can last for months. Also, spring is a prime season for allergies. Pollen is circulating throughout the air in search of a flower and other plants to fertilize and all the bees are back to help spread these allergy-causing agents around, while in the winter these natural miracles are dormant and don’t allow for the spread of allergens as much. In contrast, while a cold can happen during any time of the year, they do tend to be more common during the colder, winter months.

A few last things to know are that allergies are not in any way contagious. Allergies are simply an overreaction of your immune system to some foreign agent. A cold is actually a virus, which is very much contagious, that can be spread from person to person in various ways including contact with the virus through their hands, mouth or nose.

It’s really important to know and recognize the difference between a cold and allergies, because this determines how you will be able to treat your symptoms, and in some cases how you will treat the people that have these symptoms. As always if you are unsure ask a doctor to help you narrow down the issue.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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