Do You Know the Difference Between Cold and Allergy Symptoms?

April 14, 2016

Now that spring has sprung, you might find yourself fighting off the last cold of winter… or is it? In fact, with more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies, and more than one billion colds annually, how do you know if your stuffy nose is the onset of a cold and not an allergic reaction?

Allergies and colds often have similar symptoms and it can be tough to know which is which. While colds are caused by viruses, allergies are a response by your body to allergens such as cat or dog dander, tree or grass pollen, and even dust. So how do you tell them apart? Here are five things to watch out for:

1. If you’re suffering from watery and itchy eyes, these are allergy symptoms only, not cold symptoms. A cold won’t cause your eyes to itch.

2.There are some symptoms that do overlap: having a runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, and coughing can all be symptoms of both colds and allergies.

3. Do you have a fever or aching muscles? Allergies will never cause these symptoms which can occur during a cold, and during flu.

4. Duration: symptoms from a cold can last anywhere from 3 to 14 days, but allergies will last for as long as you are exposed to the allergen. Colds are also more likely to occur during fall and winter, whereas allergies, such as to grass pollen, will recur each year around the same time.

5. Finally, check the weather! Many weather providers now include allergy maps, letting you know when dust and pollens from various plants will be extra strong. Keep track of the allergy maps and see if your symptoms are worse on high pollen or dust days.

Treatments for both colds and allergies can only help relieve symptoms, but not the underlying causes. One of the most effective treatments is a decongestant nasal spray, either medicated or saline. These help you to temporarily breathe better by flushing your nasal passages of mucus and of allergens, relieving pressure and removing irritants. At Centers Urgent Care, we also find that antihistamines can temporarily relieve symptoms, letting you get back to work faster.

Centers Urgent Care is part of the Centers Healthcare family: New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island’s premier group of skilled nursing, rehabilitation and senior care services. To speak to a healthcare specialist and find out more about Centers Urgent Care, contact us by phone 24/7 at (718) 502-3000, or visit us, 7 days a week from 9 am until 9 pm, at 61-22G Fresh Pond Rd, Queens, NY 11379.

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