Coughing, Congestion, & Runny Nose: Allergic Rhinitis or Common Cold?

Cold or allergies? Often, symptoms become confusing since the two can manifest similarly. One of the most efficient ways to determine if you’re suffering from a cold or hay fever is the condition’s duration. Colds usually don’t last longer than a week or so, unlike hay fever which can linger as long as an allergen is present. (Note that if the allergen is seasonal, cold-like symptoms may endure for a few months. If the allergen is something like dust or mold in your home, the allergy symptoms can last far longer.)

cold or allergies?

Here are some more tips for telling the two ailments apart:

Common Cold vs. Hay Fever

A common cold is caused by a virus that enters the human body. When the immune system detects the virus, the body will launch defense mechanisms to protect itself against the “invader.” The body’s counter-attack leads to the depleted body resources that result in cold symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of cold include sneezing, coughing, and congestion.
Hay fever, on the other hand, is caused by allergens like pollen or pet dander. Allergens aren’t actually harmful to the body at all. The body, however, mistakenly thinks that they are and launches an attack that leads to symptoms.

While the symptoms of cold and allergies are quite similar, there are some key differences. Colds can be accompanied by hay fever and body pains but allergies rarely are. Sore throat can occur with both but is rarer with hay fever.

Managing colds and hay fever

You can’t treat a cold but you can manage cold symptoms with pain relievers, fever reducers, decongestants, and nasal saline solutions. If you suspect your cold is really allergy-related, contact your doctor about allergy treatment. If you want a safer, hassle-free alternative to allergy shots, talk to the Family Allergy Clinic about under-the-tongue (subingual) allergy immunotherapy drops.