You have a cough, and you are sneezing. Your nose is stuffy and you have a hard time breathing. Do you have a cold, or are your symptoms caused by allergies.
We seem to experience symptoms most often in the winter, although they can happen any time of the year. We have more colds in the winter because we are in closer contact with people who are contagious. We have allergies to many things and the symptoms show up depending on the allergens we are exposed to.
There are some differences between allergies and colds.
Common Cold Symptoms
- Generally feeling bad
- mild body aches or headache
- sore throat
- runny nose, or congestion or both
- coughing and sneezing
- low grade fever
Your mucous discharge may be yellow or green but this does not necessarily mean you have a bacterial infection or that you need antibiotics.
Practice good self care, and treat the symptoms that you have when necessary. Get extra sleep and drink plenty of fluids.
Cold symptoms usually last a week to ten days. People with breathing problems may have cold symptoms for a longer duration. Smokers have a more difficult time recovering.
Children have five or six colds a year. Healthy adults often have one or two colds yearly. Working around children may increase the number of colds you have due to more exposure.
Air born allergies symptoms
Generally food allergies and contact allergies do not cause the same symptoms as air born allergies or hay fever. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis can be mistaken for a cold, however. These are some of the symptoms:
- itchy throat, roof of mouth and eyes
- red and watery eyes
- swollen eyes
- runny or stuffy nose
Allergies may make you feel miserable, but should not cause a fever or body aches. Treat them by avoiding triggers and use over-the counter medicine.
If your throat and face swell up and you have trouble breathing it is an emergency. Go to the urgent care or emergency room or call 911.
See your doctor for allergy symptoms that do not get better or do not go away with over-the-counter treatments. If you develop symptoms after starting a new medicine you need to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Colds are contagious, allergies are not, but may make you more susceptible to colds. We see more colds in the winter when we are indoors more in shared environments. Many allergies are related to pollen and dust outdoors but can also be triggered by indoor irritants like mold, dust and artificial fragrances.
With colds or allergies see your doctor if you do not improve in about a week with self-treatment. Always drink plenty of fluids and wash your hands often. A fever over 101 F needs to be reported to your doctor so you can feel better soon.