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What is the Difference Between a Cold & Allergies?

It’s happening: you were just going through your day when all of a sudden, the sniffles began, and you’re not sure if it’s a result of seasonal allergies or if you’re coming down with a cold. Telling the difference is be easier than you may think! While both are common and affect millions of people each year, they have different types of symptoms and can last for different amounts of time. Knowing what is causing your symptoms is critical to getting the proper treatment for relief. While an adult can get two or three colds per year, certain allergies may only be triggered during specific seasons. A cold may go away on its own, while your allergic reaction may require medical attention and treatment.

What are the Differences Between a Cold & Allergies?

While cold and allergic reactions may both involve sniffling and persistent sneezing, that is the extent of their similarities. During an allergic reaction, the eyes will become irritated and begin to water. During a more severe allergic reaction, your throat may begin to itch or swell, while a sore throat is a common symptom during a cold. An allergic reaction may also present with a red, itchy rash on the skin due to irritation. Additional symptoms present during a cold include a fever and body aches from the virus. The duration of a cold is also different from an allergic reaction. While a cold can last up to 10 days, symptoms from allergies can last up to several weeks due to the presence of allergens and triggers in the air, which is why seasonal allergies are so prevalent in the first several weeks of spring and fall. Colds can occur year-round and can be cured with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medication. Symptoms may take several days to form. Allergic reactions are more sudden and can present as soon as a person encounters the allergen, including pet dander, mold, and freshly-cut grass.

Differences in Treatment

Like all different illnesses and conditions, the course of treatment a doctor will follow for an allergic reaction are very different from how they would go about treating a minor cold. A doctor will be able to go over your symptoms and recommend doses of over-the-counter medicine. For an allergic reaction, a doctor at your local urgent care center will be able to provide medication and assess any complications you may be experiencing as a result. For persistent allergies, your doctor will be able to provide immediate relief and recommend a specialist for a more long-term solution.
Are you experiencing symptoms of a cold or your seasonal allergies? Visit AFC Urgent Care for treatment for your allergies or illness.