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4-signs-its-allergies-not-a-coldThese four questions can help determine whether you're down with a cold or just allergies.

From congestion, coughing, and sneezing, it can be hard to tell if you’ve caught a cold or if you’re experiencing allergies. There are similar symptoms, but if you track when you experience problems, and it turns out to be around the same time every year, you may have seasonal allergies. Whereas if you tend to experience the symptoms every winter, it can be either. To help you figure out if symptoms are allergies or a cold, here are a four questions to ask yourself.

Is This an Allergy or a Common Cold?

First, you must understand the difference between allergies and a cold.

The common cold is caused by a number of germs and viruses that get into the body after it’s gone airborne. When the immune system tries to fight off the virus, the body reacts by coughing, fever, sneezing, and other symptoms. Because viruses and germs spread easily, the common cold is highly contagious.

Allergies can be somewhat inherited, but they are not contagious. In fact, they are the result of an overactive immune system when the body mistakes certain substances for germs (such as a cold) and the body tries to fight them off. The body releases a natural compound called histamine, which causes a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and/or other symptoms just like a cold.


4 Questions to Determine

1. How long does it last?

Allergy: As long as the individual is exposed to the allergen (sometimes this is tricky when you suffer from environmental allergies where you live).

Cold: Three days to two weeks.

2. When does it occur?

Allergy: Usually seasonal, but whenever the allergen is present.

Cold: Most commonly during winter, but can be other times of the year.

3. How long is it before you start showing symptoms?

Allergy: Immediately following exposure to allergen.

Cold: Symptoms appear after a few days or symptoms gradually increase.

4. Where does your symptoms fall? Often, Usually, Rarely, or Never

Symptom Allergy Cold
Runny, stuffy nose Usually Usually
Coughing  Sometimes               Often
Sneezing Usually Usually
Fever Never Rarely
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes            
Sore throat Sometimes Often
Aches, pains Never Sometimes
Eyes itching, watering   Often Rarely
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