What is The Difference Between the Common Cold and Allergies?

One of the most common health complaints in the United States comes from those suffering from allergies. According to MedicalNewsToday over fifty million Americans suffer from some type of allergy, with ragweed allergies in particular affecting anywhere from ten to twenty percent of the U.S. population at any given time. At the same time, many Americans also suffer from the common cold every year as well. The common cold can lead to complications like sinusitis or bronchitis if not treated promptly, but the symptoms are often confused with those of allergies. Here are the key differences between the common cold and allergies and how allergies can be properly diagnosed.

  • Sore throat: Both allergies and the common cold can lead to a sore throat. However, a sore throat is much more common with a cold.
  • Duration of symptoms: The most critical difference between the common cold and allergies is the length of the symptoms. As a general rule, a cold will run its course in about seven to ten days. Allergies, in contrast, can flare up for weeks at a time. So if you are suffering from symptoms that last for longer than two weeks, it is highly likely you are suffering from allergies and not a cold and you might need to visit an allergy doctor.
  • Itchy and watery eyes: If your eyes feel itchy and watery, you are suffering from allergies, this symptom does not occur with a cold.
  • Fever and Body Aches: One of the best ways to tell if you are suffering from allergies or a cold is to check if you have a fever or body aches. The cold can cause both symptoms but neither are associated with allergies.

Once you have gone through your symptoms and determined that you are suffering from allergies, the next step is to seek treatment for them. Treatment for allergies can be sought by making an appointment with an allergist at an allergy and asthma clinic. An allergist can test for allergies by sticking needles full of different allergens into the skin and determine an allergy based on the skin reaction to each allergen. The testing process can take several hours depending on how many allergens the allergist is testing for.

In conclusion, if you know the key differences between the common cold and allergies, you will always be able to tell which one you are afflicted with. If it turns out you are suffering from allergies, you can seek treatment by visiting an allergist at an allergy clinic where they can test to see which specific allergies you suffer from. Once an allergy, or several allergies, are diagnosed, a treatment plan can be worked out, often consisting of allergy shots. Allergists can help with allergy diagnosis and treatment, and should always be consulted if you even suspect you suffer from allergies.

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