Is it a Cold or an Allergy?

winter, outdoors, cold

As the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall, you’ll hear lots of people around you start sniffling and sneezing--it may even be you! While colds and allergies have different symptoms, it’s so important to know the difference so you can seek proper treatment.  It’s sometimes a tough call to figure out where that coughing and sneezing is coming from, but how long your symptoms last can be indicative of what is ailing you.

To start, you have to know the difference between the two. A cold is a manifestation of a virus in your immune system. As soon as your body detects this virus, your immune system goes on the defensive and starts battling it, which causes typical symptoms such as a stuffy nose or a cough. Viruses are contagious and can be transmitted through something as simple as a handshake. On the other hand, allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. Your body mistakenly detects something in your system (such as pollen or dust) and thinks it is harmful, so it immediately starts attacking it. This causes your nasal passages to swell, and leads to sneezing or runny noses. Allergies are not contagious, but some folks may inherit a tendency to get them more often than others.

A few other differences between colds and allergies are certain factors like how long they last, when they happen, and when they start. A cold can last anywhere between 3 and 14 days, whereas an allergy will last from day to a month, depending on how long you are in contact with the allergen. Colds and allergies both depend on time of year, as colds are prominent in winter months and allergies appear on a more seasonal basis. Finally, a cold will start a few days after initial contact with the virus, while an allergic reaction can appear immediately after contact with the allergy trigger.

If you’re experiencing aches, coughs, itchy or watery eyes, or any other traditional allergy or cold symptom, feel free to visit our website for more information. If you are need of allergy testing, give us a call at (508) 746-8977. Stay healthy this winter!