When winter colds and flu finally stop bothering us, but we still find ourselves sneezing, we always want to know, "Is this a cold or an allergy?" Finding out whether your symptoms are caused by a cold or allergy is the first step to finding relief, and here’s how to tell. Colds are contagious and are caused by one of more than 200 viruses. You can’t catch allergies, which are triggered by allergens, prompting your immune system to overreact.
There are many possible allergens, from pollen to pet dander. And while spring sneezing might be due to a cold, high levels of tree and grass pollens and mold spores cause misery at this time of year for the 60 million Americans who suffer from allergies and hay fever. Lots of people suffer from PET allergies too–especially allergies to cat dander, a problem which 8-10% of the US population has. Now THAT problem can be solved with a shot–or 4 to 8 does of them a year, anyway.
Here are some general guidelines to telling the difference between these two maladies: How does the suffering start?: Colds evolve, usually starting with a stuffy nose, throat irritation and low grade fever. Next comes the sneezing and a runny nose, with thickening mucus that often turns yellow or green. Common allergy symptoms include itchy eyes and nose, as well as sneezing, but the mucus is typically clear. Can’t shake your symptoms? Colds usually run their course after a week or two. Allergist Myron Zitt says, "Allergy symptoms, on the other hand, hang on or even increase as long as you are exposed to the allergen that is triggering your symptoms. For spring allergies that may mean six weeks or more."
If you’re achy and feverish, you most likely have a cold, while itchy eyes strongly suggest allergies, although eye discomfort can occur with a cold, too. Although a sore throat and cough can occur with allergies, those symptoms more likely suggest you have a cold. Coughing, however, can be a sign of asthma, especially in children.
Feel better now? If not, run to your doctor or allergist–whichever one is the right person to see. The cold and flu season will be over by June, so you’ll feel well enough to join us for our Dreamland Festival in beautiful, allergy-free Nashville. We GUARANTEE that AMAZING things will happen!