Do You Have Allergies Or A Cold?

A runny nose, itchy eyes and a cough can all signs that you are coming down with a cold. However, these symptoms can also indicate that you have seasonal allergies. In order to tell whether you have the common cold or allergies, here are some key facts you should know:

The Common Cold

The cold is a virus that can be passed from one infected person to another when they cough or sneeze. Someone can also give you their cold through shaking your hand or if you touch something they have handled and then touch your own face. If you do catch a cold, it usually doesn't last long, but if you have symptoms that persist for more than a week or two, you should see your doctor.

Seasonal Allergies

Allergy symptoms are the result of your immune system's reaction when they are trying to fight off substances to which you're sensitive. The immune system releases a chemical called histamines to ward off the invading substance, which is usually in the form of pollen. The histamines trigger sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion and coughing.

Which is it?

The duration of symptoms is one way to tell whether you have allergies or a cold. Cold symptoms usually wear off quickly, usually lasting no more than a week. Body aches are also a common symptom of a cold that allergy sufferers usually do not experience. However, if your symptoms are the result of allergies, they can persist throughout the year.

With allergy symptoms, you usually wake up each morning with some degree of stuffiness or your eyes may burn and itch. The blooming of flowers or trees can trigger some allergies or a fresh cut lawn can trigger them for some people. If you do have symptoms throughout the year, you probably have allergies not a cold.

Taking Precautions

Washing your hands is a good way to prevent catching a cold from someone who has one. However, if someone is sneezing and coughing due to allergies, you are not going to catch what they have. Taking an antihistamine is a good way to ward off allergies, but you may wish to consult with your doctor before you take one.

Not all antihistamines work alike and some may make you drowsy. It is a good idea to try and figure out what type of allergies you have so you can take the right antihistamine to clear up your symptoms. To learn more, contact a professional like Diane L. Ozog, MD, SC with any questions you have.