16 May

Is it a Cold or Allergies?

Is it a Cold or Allergies?

Spring is finally here and for some of us that means a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. So how do you know if it’s the common cold or seasonal allergies? These conditions share common symptoms making it that much more difficult to tell the difference. Although the common cold typically occurs in the winter months, allergies and the common cold can occur at any time. 

Seasonal Allergies

What causes them?

  • Pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds
  • Mold spores

What are the symptoms?

  • Stuffy nose, runny nose, or sneezing
  • Clear, thin, watery mucus
  • Itchy or red eyes
  • Sore throat, or itching of the throat or ears
  • Waking up throughout the night or having trouble sleeping

When do symptoms start and how long do they last?

  • Within minutes lasting up to weeks or months depending how long the allergen is around

Can I prevent them?

  • Yes - Staying inside, closing home and car windows, and showering before bed are all ways to avoid or decrease exposure

Can I treat them?

  • Yes. If you notice that you are having those symptoms at the same time every year, talk with your health care practitioner, they may be able to prescribe you something to help. There are pills, eye drops, and nasal sprays available that can help depending on your specific symptoms.


Common Cold

What causes it?

  • Viruses

What are the symptoms?

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sniffling and runny nose
  • Thick, yellow mucus
  • Sore throat
  • Chest congestion

When do symptoms start and how long do they last?

  • Gradually over a few days lasting up to 2 weeks

Can I prevent it?

  • Yes. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Viruses can live on tables, handles, and other surfaces for at least 2 hours!

Can I treat it?

  • To treat a cold, get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids


References: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/oct2014/feature2