A VISIT with your doctor is the best way to determine whether you have a cold or an allergy. While allergy symptoms and cold symptoms are very similar, there are some signs to look for if you want to know the difference.
1.Â Â Â Take a look at the color of your nasal discharge, mucous or saliva. Both allergies and colds cause a runny nose, but for cold sufferers, the discharge is usually green or brown – which is a sign of an infection. â€œIf the mucous is clear â€“ it is probably an allergy,â€ says Dr. Carl Wurster, chair, Allied Health Department, at Brown Mackie College – Boise. The allergy comes from an allergen, while the cold indicates exposure to a virus.
2.Â Â Â Allergy sufferers do not generally have to deal with body pain, but if you have a headache and feel lots of aches and pains, itâ€™s probably a cold. If you have a viral cold, youâ€™ll also experience fatigue and a severe sore throat. â€œA mild sore throat may accompany an allergy, but with a cold you could lose your voice and have hoarseness. It is rare to be hoarse with allergies and lose your voice,â€ adds Wurster.
3.Â Â Â Check your calendar and keep track of how long youâ€™ve been sneezing or feeling sick. A cold can last up to two weeks. Allergies are often seasonal, especially if the trigger comes from grass or tree pollen. â€œIf your allergy comes from something inside your house like, mold, or dust â€“ the symptoms can be constant or come and go â€“ depending on the exposure level to the indoor allergy source,â€ says Wurster. â€œAllergy sufferers may also have nosebleeds because pollen gets deposited inside the front of nose which triggers the sneeze reflex. Sometimes allergy sufferers have a line across the tip if their nose and puffiness under their lower eyelids because of heparin (a substance naturally generated from the white cells of the body),â€ he says.
4.Â Â Â If your eyes, nose, throat or mouth itch, itâ€™s a sure bet that you are reacting to some kind of allergen which can come from pollen or even an allergen in the workplace or on a college campus. If your allergy stems from something in your workplace, some industries have set up â€œclean rooms,â€ where employees wear â€œclean suitsâ€ in highly-sterile rooms. Some employees feel claustrophobic in clean rooms, but people with allergies tend to like it.
â€œWith allergies, you will run a low-grade fever of 100.1 or 100.2 F. With the viral or bacterial cold your temperature will be a degree higher â€“ 103 or 104 F,â€ says Wurster. Hay fever is the old term for allergies â€œbecause you get symptoms of a cold with a low grade fever,â€ Wurster says. The average person does not know whether their sickness is viral, bacterial or the result of an allergen.
â€œAllergy sufferers should consider using antihistamines at night (Benadryl),â€ Wurster says. â€œA cold will not respond to an antihistamine. Claritin and Afrin would be effective during the day because they donâ€™t cause drowsiness. Take a decongestant to prevent mucous from building up in your sinuses.â€
Not being able to sleep at night is another sign of an allergy. â€œYou should elevate yourself on a bunch of pillows to get the drainage of fluid out of your head to help you fall asleep,â€ says Wurster.
Wurster says there is one good thing about having allergies. â€œAllergy sufferers are genetically-coordinated with high intelligence.â€ He added that â€œthe peak incidence of allergies can be absent from the onset of puberty to the mid-20s, but can show up when the patient is in their 30s and late 40s.â€
For cold sufferers, the key is to visit your physician because you may need antibiotics. Try to avert getting a cold. â€œWhen it first starts, rinse your nose out with salt water four to five times a day. It can prevent a bacterial cold and treat sinus infections,â€ he says.
â€œFor some people with allergies, mucous gets backed up in their sinuses which serves as fertile ground for bacterial culture. What could have been a two-to three-day allergy can turn into sinusitis, bronchitis or a cold which includes congestion and the risk of an upper respiratory virus infection,â€ says Wurster who added, â€œItâ€™s important to visit your doctor to see if your lungs are clear.â€ (ARAcontent) â–