What is a Cold?
Common cold is a result of harmful bacteria or viruses. Cold, cough, and congestion are actually effects of the immune system responding to these intruders. If a cold is caused by a virus, it is contagious. The common symptoms which accompany a cold caused by viruses are sore throat, sneezes, cough, and runny or stuffy nose. Some people may also experience body aches and pains. In rare cases, people may also have mild fever. Mild to moderate chest discomfort is also seen in some people.
What are Allergies?
If a person contracts cold suddenly and it occurs at the same time of the year, every year, it is a symptom of allergy. It is actually a seasonal allergy in particular. It is the response given to a particular allergen by our immune system. The allergens can be molds or pollens. The body mistakes them for germs and attacks them, causing allergies. Some of the common symptoms of allergies are itchy eyes, running, and/or stuffy nose. Fever is never a symptom of allergies, although some people may have sore throat or fatigue. These allergies are not contagious and hence, are not passed from one person to another. Allergies can take some weeks before they are completely eliminated from the body.
Differences Between Allergies and Cold
To differentiate between symptoms of allergies and cold, understand that the symptoms of cold take few days to appear after the person has been infected with the virus. On the other hand, the symptoms of allergies appear immediately after the person is exposed to the allergen. The duration of a cold can be anywhere between three to fourteen days, but allergies last till the person is exposed to the affecting allergen. A cold is commonly caused during winter, but it can occur any time of the year. Allergies are commonly seen during pollen season. Often, allergies can give rise to infections.
Since the symptoms of both are different, the method to be implemented to treat them is also different. If you have allergies, ensure you make a note of what you are allergic to. So that the next time you can stay away from those allergens. The most common allergens are pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander. To prevent cold, make sure you are not in proximity of people who have cold. Make sure you wash your hands often, also when you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose. To treat both conditions, antihistamines and decongestants are prescribed. Nasal steroids may be given to treat an allergy.
If you are confused, it is always recommended that you visit your health care professional. He/she will be in a better position to diagnose the exact problem.