We are often asked how to distinguish between symptoms caused by allergies or a common cold. While they share common symptoms of respiratory inflammation, such as congestion, sneezing, coughing and headache, allergies and colds have some distinguishing characteristics.
If you tend to get “colds” that develop suddenly and occur at the same time every year, it’s possible that you actually have seasonal allergies. When determining whether your symptoms are the result of a cold or allergy, it is important to consider how long your symptoms are present. A cold usually lasts three to 10 days. While both can cause a cough or bronchitis that may last for weeks, if your nasal symptoms continue after a couple of weeks, it could mean that allergies are the cause.
Another thing to look at is how often your symptoms are occurring. Are your symptoms seasonal? If your symptoms are worse during a certain season, or if you have symptoms all year long, you may have allergies.
A helpful diagram to help determine which one you may be suffering from:
If you suspect you may have a cold:
There is no real treatment to cure a cold. Ibuprofen may help alleviate the malaise, sore throat, headache and fever, but other than that the best you can do is rest, drink plenty of fluids and wait it out
If you suspect you may have allergies:
Think you have allergies? You can try to relieve your symptoms with over-the-counter medications such as non-sedating antihistamines or topical nasal steroids. If this is not an effective solution, you should see a doctor for an evaluation and possible allergy testing. Call our office at (616) 994-2770 to schedule your consult and speak with one of our allergy specialists.