9 Signs It’s Allergies and Not a Cold

Posted by: Specialty Care Institute in Uncategorized on October 29, 2021

Do you have a runny nose that’s followed by sneezing, congestion, and fatigue? These are some of the symptoms that both allergies and the common cold share with each other.

Because allergies and colds have overlapping symptoms, you may find it challenging to tell the difference between the two. An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system reacts to otherwise harmless substances and goes on the defensive to protect you, releasing histamines in response to them.

These foreign substances are known as allergens and include things like dust mites, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. You can develop a cold if a cold virus enters your respiratory tract, and your immune system defends your body by attacking the virus. Keep reading to learn about 9 signs it’s allergies and not a cold!

Similarities Between a Cold and Allergies

woman blowing her nose

Some of the symptoms that can overlap between allergies and colds are:

            •          A runny nose

            •          Frequent sneezing

            •          Congestion

            •          Drowsiness and fatigue

There are also tell-tale differences between allergies and a cold. Below are signs you have allergies and not a cold:

            1.        Dry Cough and a Tickle in the Throat

man coughing

Having a dry cough is synonymous with allergies. But it’s not unusual to cough up mucus if you have a cold.

Unlike a cold that causes a sore throat, allergies don’t cause one. Instead, allergens irritate the lining of the nose.

As a result, your nasal passages release watery mucus that moves to the back of the throat, triggering a tickling sensation.

            2.        Your Symptoms Aren’t Contagious

When you have a cold, you remain infectious for two days before you have any discernible symptoms and for two weeks after initial exposure to the virus. With allergies, there is no risk of catching them from someone else because they are not contagious at all.

Any of the symptoms you may experience are from the reaction of your immune system to allergens.

            3.        You Have Itchy Eyes, Nose, Ears, and Throat

man holding his face

When you have a cold, your eyes might turn red, and you may experience slight discomfort. This is vastly different if you have allergies, as you may notice itchy, watery eyes, as well as swelling around your eyes.

Having an itchy nose, as well as feeling any scratchiness in your ears and throat, are often signs of having allergies.

            4.        There’s a Seasonal Pattern to Your Symptoms

woman sneezing

If you notice you get particular symptoms that seem to only occur at the same time every year, it’s a surefire sign that you likely have allergies. Allergies follow a pattern and tend to flare up when allergens you’re allergic to are present.

You can have allergy-related symptoms when there’s pollen in the air. The symptoms can persist until allergy season is over.

If you have a cold, it will not last a whole season. Most will usually run their course in a week or less. You can catch a cold at any time of year, although you’re more prone to getting sick during the winter months.

            5.        You Aren’t Experiencing Any Aches or Pains

woman in bed blowing her nose

If you have a cold, you may experience aches and pains that make you stay in bed while you recover. Although you may feel tired when you have allergies, they don’t cause any aches or pains that make you bedridden.

At most, you may develop a headache from congestion if you have severe allergies.

            6.        You Have Persistent Symptoms

Typically, you’ll start getting better from a cold after about 3 to 7 days. If you have allergies, their symptoms will continue for as long as you’re exposed to allergens.

That means you’ll usually see an improvement in your symptoms if you are no longer around what you’re allergic to. But if you have a cold, the symptoms will last until the virus is out of your system.

            7.        You Don’t Have a Fever

Having a fever won’t happen with allergies, but if your body is fighting off a virus, you may develop one as an immune response. Allergies can lead to health complications like a sinus infection that might trigger a fever in some instances.

            8.        How Long It Takes Symptoms to Surface

Allergy symptoms often occur as soon as you’re exposed to an allergen. It takes signs much longer to surface with a cold. It can be about three days for many people before signs of sickness become apparent with a cold.

            9.        You Have Clear Mucus

At first, both allergies and colds have liquid mucus that’s clear. As the symptoms persist, the mucus thickens and becomes yellowish or greenish when you’re sick with a cold.

But with allergies, you’ll continue having watery and clear mucus rather than thicker mucus.

man laying in bed

Treatment for Colds

While colds have no cure, over-the-counter products and medications can help. You can use cough suppressants, nasal decongestants, fever reducers, and pain relievers to treat cold symptoms.

In addition, getting plenty of rest, doing saline gargles, and drinking lots of hot fluids can be a helpful way to manage your symptoms until you start feeling better.

Treatment for Allergies

Even though you can reduce allergy symptoms by staying away from particular triggers, avoiding allergens might not always be possible. If your allergies are severe, allergy shots and drops can help reduce the severity of your symptoms and allow you to live a more normal life.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots are a long-term treatment that minimizes your sensitivity to allergy-causing substances like mold and pollen. To establish what’s triggering your allergies, you need a blood or skin test.

Depending on the results, your allergy specialist at Specialty Care Institute will prepare a special combination of the substances that trigger your allergies. After several years, the shots can help decrease your sensitivity to allergens and may even minimize or stop your allergic reactions.

Allergy Drops

woman using allergy drops

SubLingual ImmunoTherapy, also known as allergy drops, works by taming your immune system’s reaction to substances that cause allergies. The treatment enables monitored exposure to allergens for a time period, leading to fewer responses and symptoms.

Eventually, you build up a tolerance to your allergens, allowing your symptoms to improve.

Get Allergy Relief from Allergy Experts

The experienced doctors at Specialty Care Institute offer world-class expertise combined with effective treatment plans for allergies. After thorough evaluation and testing, Specialty Care Institute’s board-certified doctors will accurately diagnose your allergies and provide highly individualized, evidence-based treatment.

Ready to take control of your allergies? Schedule an appointment at Specialty Care Institute in Barrington, IL, today!