Allergies or a Cold?

The symptoms of allergies and colds can be very similar, so it can be pretty difficult to tell them apart. Each can cause running noses, sneezing, possible headaches, and congested nasal cavities. Luckily, there are some differences that make it possible to tell whether or not what you have is contagious.sneezing

Colds often include some special “bonuses” that allergies rarely deliver, like coughs and sore throats. Seasonal allergies, on the other hand, can cause itchy eyes and soreness behind the front of the skull, which is unusual in the common cold. People who live in rural, pollen-laden areas or who get hay fever may experience these symptoms more severely. 

These differences are very slight. So much so that your family physician may even get the two mixed up. The following are a few, more concrete methods of telling the two apart.

1. Genetics
Studies have found that 30% of children develop allergies if one of their parents have them. If both parents have allergies, that number skyrockets to 70%. In addition to genetic predisposition, take note that most children rarely develop allergies until they are around five years old or later. Some may develop allergies as young as four. If your child is 3 or younger, they likely have a cold.

2. Season
Winter is the prime season for colds. Whereas pollen saturates the air during the spring and summer. Take note of whether or not you develop symptoms at the same time each year. An annual occurrence usually signifies allergies.

3. Mucus
Colored mucus, those beautiful yellows and greens, usually point to a cold. Allergies typically produce clear nasal drips. If a drip starts clear and becomes yellow-green after a few days, you may be developing a sinus infection.

How Colds and Allergies Affect Your Body
Viruses invade your body and then rapidly multiply to start colds. The immune system attacks them, causing congestion and coughing. The immune system engages in an actual battle against the cold, so the symptoms are typically more severe than allergies, and may cause more severe headaches, fever, and muscle cramps.


Allergies, on the other hand, are caused by the immune system overreacting to some stimulus. Pollen, certain food chemicals, dust, sawdust, animal dandruff, and more can all cause the immune system to act up. This is why people with allergies take antihistamines, because histamines are the chemicals causing runny noses and sneezing.

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By WHBlogger 

Reviewed: 5/18/18

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

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