Allergies are hypersensitive responses of the immune system to normally benign substances. Your body views the substance as a foreign invader and responds to protect you. In the case of seasonal allergies, this response often brings on symptoms that are similar to those of the common cold. A cold is caused by a virus and causes a minor infection.
Both allergies and colds may cause sniffling, a runny nose, fatigue, and sneezing. But there are subtleties between the two conditions that help you distinguish between them and get the right care.
At South Plains Rural Health Services located in Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas, we offer testing if you suspect allergies and, if it turns out to be a cold, provide palliative care for cold symptoms.
Evaluate your symptoms to help determine whether you’re suffering from allergies or a cold. Knowing which ailment you have helps you ease symptoms and recover quickly.
Symptoms that suggest allergies
Seasonal allergies usually have you sneezing and sniffling. But you’ll notice the mucus associated with any sinus drainage is usually clear and watery. You may also have itchy, watery eyes – a symptom that rarely occurs with a cold.
Seasonal allergy symptoms tend to persist too, going on for weeks at a time. And, the symptoms rarely change – you don’t seem to get better (unless you take medications or avoid the trigger).
Suspect allergies if your symptoms consistently show up at certain times of the year or in specific circumstances, such as in a dusty room or a house with a cat.
Symptoms that suggest a cold
You can expect to have two to three colds per year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They often show up in the spring and winter months.
A cold may be accompanied by a low-grade fever, coughing, headaches, or body aches. More than 200 cold viruses can infect you, and each one has different symptoms. In general, though, these symptoms don’t occur with allergies.
However, if you have asthma, it is possible for you to cough with allergies. The post-nasal drip from allergies can also cause a cough in some people with allergies.
Cold symptoms last about 7-10 days and can run the gamut. You may experience a fever at first with a stuffy nose. A sore throat can develop for a few days, then you experience sinus pain. You may notice symptoms peak and then progressively get better.
With a cold, you may also notice your mucus becomes thicker and yellowish as immune cells fight back against the cold virus.
If you think you have allergies, contact South Plains Rural Health Services for treatment options. We can do testing to determine your triggers and offer medications and immunotherapy to help you manage symptoms.
Prevent colds by washing your hands often. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose, areas especially vulnerable to viruses. If you know someone is sick, stay away from them. Many cold viruses are airborne.
If you do have allergies or a cold, the experts at South Plains Rural Health Services are here for you. Simply call or schedule an appointment online if you need care.