Allergies or cold? A lot of people get these two disorders confused. The uncertainty has a valid root though. Both these conditions exhibit generally the same symptoms. So, for the untrained, the act of differentiating one from the other can get quite tricky, especially for those people who are not afflicted with chronic seasonal allergies. However, there are a number of telltale signs that help one find out what condition he or she may be suffering from. There is great significance in being able to determine the differences between cold and allergies. The simple but weighty reason is that accurately recognizing the affliction results to appropriate treatment of the symptoms.
In reality, there are scores of individuals who are wondering if they have cold or allergies each time they are run down by the universal runny nose, congestion and cough. Some may conclude that they have the common cold and they may be right. Or not. It is quite possible that what they have is, in actuality, a result of an overactive immune system. These are things that they might not be able to find out right away due to the similarity of the symptoms. The obvious snag to this erroneous conclusion would be incorrect medication and, as anyone can expect, the absence of relief from the symptoms even after medications. In consequence, becoming skilled at identifying one from the other can spell a major difference.
Allergies vs Cold: The Similarities
Colds are normally caused by different viruses that can number by the hundreds. These diseases are known to be passed around when a person plagued with the symptoms is within close proximity, or close enough for the germs to have the opportunity to invade another host body. When one of these little guys finds a way to enter one’s body, their objective is to attack the immune system. And when they’re triumphant at that, the body responds by giving out the characteristic signs of the common cold, including runny nose, sneezing, coughing, congestion and headache.
Allergies, in contrast, are caused by various elements, or allergens, including dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke and pollution. For some reason, the body sometimes mistakes harmless substances, like pollen or mold, for germs and goes on attack mode. The immune system releases histamine, just as it does each time it fights a cold, thereby, triggering the onset of cold symptoms. Other people get allergies through ingestion of certain types of food or medications. The indications of an allergy attack stretches from clear runny nose, itchy or dry eyes, sneezing and headache. With the more serious cases, there is difficulty in breathing and an occurrence of hives, or red itchy rashes.
Cold vs Allergies: Telling Them Apart
Determining whether one is having the regular sniffles or a bout with the pollens can be done by knowing what to look for. As can be seen from above, allergies and colds exhibit just about the same symptoms. With the cold though, the condition will typically last for, at most, a couple of weeks. In some instances, it may last longer, but normally it clears up in a span of two weeks. Colds can occur anytime, but most often during the winter. The symptoms usually take a few days to occur after virus infection. As for allergies, the symptoms remain until the allergen that is making the body overly reactive is removed, or if the person is no longer exposed to it. Allergies occur anytime of the year, although the presence of some types of allergens is cyclic. Signs of an allergy attack can begin immediately after contact with the allergen.
So, the allergy vs cold dilemma ought to end here. While there are certain significant similarities between the two, having the ability to single out one from other can tremendously help in making it easier to conduct proper care, management and treatment of the disorders.