Cold vs. Allergies

September 28, 2017 | , ,

Woman blowing her nose in front of a white brick wall

Do you think you have a cold?  There’s a chance it could be allergies.  It can sometimes be difficult to know the difference between the two, especially during seasonal changes, and let’s not forget the fact that school is back in session and our children are sharing everything.

What’s the difference between the common cold & allergies?  

A cold is caused by a virus or bacteria and symptoms can take a few days to appear after being exposed.  Colds are contagious and can last 3-14 days.  It’s typical of a cold to occur during Winter months but they can happen any time.  Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system.  Your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or pollen, for germs and mounts an attack on them.  When that happens, the body releases a chemical called histamine which can cause inflammation of your passageways and you will start sneezing and coughing.  Allergy symptoms can last days to months (as long as you are in contact with the allergy trigger and a short time after).  Allergies can appear any time of the year (although typically seasonal) and symptoms can begin immediately after coming in contact with the allergy trigger.

Common cold symptoms:

  • often cough
  • often sore throat
  • often runny & stuffy nose
  • sometimes body aches
  • sometimes fatigue
  • sometimes fever
  • rarely itchy/watery eyes

Allergy symptoms:

  • often runny & stuffy nose
  • sometimes cough
  • sometimes fatigue
  • sometimes sore throat (from postnasal drip)
  • Often itchy/watery eyes
  • never body aches or fever

Allergy testing can help you determine if your symptoms are caused by a cold or allergies. Normally, a cold doesn’t last more than two weeks. So, if you still experience symptoms after two weeks, it could be allergy-related or a sign of another issue. Sinusitis, a sinus infection, could result from either a cold or allergies, and may need antibiotic treatment.

Call our office at (616) 994-2770 if you are concerned your symptoms may be caused by allergies or sinusitis.


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