It’s that time of the year again, and you can see red runny noses on nearly everyone’s face. The constant sneezing, sniffling and achoo-ing are absolutely no fun. Worse of all, you can possibly spread the germs to someone else and get them sick too if you have a cold. Allergy, on the other hand, cannot be passed to another person, but since both cold and allergy have such similar symptoms, how would we tell them apart?
A cold is a viral infection that is caused by a virus 99% of the time, and very rarely caused by bacteria. The typical symptoms of sneezing, congestion, itching or runny nose occur during the process of which the body’s immune system is trying to kill the virus.
An allergy is a reaction to irritants or allergens, so the symptoms are results of an immune response to the substances in the environment.
How to Tell Them Apart?
Cold and allergy share common symptoms like nasal congestion, scratchy throats, coughing, and sneezing and fatigue. But they have their differences too and these are a few pointers to help distinguish the two illnesses:
A cold usually lasts for a few days, maybe even a week or two. But allergy can last for as long as you are exposed to the irritants or allergens, which could mean days or months!
2) Occurrence of Symptoms
A cold usually occur during cold seasons, like winter, although it is possible to happen at any other time as well. Allergy can occur at any time of the year, depending on the appearance of the irritants or allergens. Some irritants or allergens occur in seasonally, so if you keep getting the symptoms at about the same time of the year every year, then you could have allergy.
3) Appearance of Symptoms
For a cold, the symptoms usually show a few days after the infection, while for allergy, the symptoms will show as soon as you are exposed to the irritants or allergens.
4) Types of Symptoms
A cold is OFTEN accompanied by cough and sore throat, SOMETIMES with fatigue and body aches too. Fever rarely occurs with a cold but it is possible to happen.
An allergy is OFTEN accompanied by itchy and watery eyes, and SOMETIMES, cough, fatigue and sore throat. Allergy is NEVER associated with fever so if you do have fever, you are probably having a cold.
5) Color of Mucus
Another main difference between cold and allergy is the color of the mucus. Allergy usually produces clear mucus. If the runny nose is due to a cold, the discharge will be yellow or green in color, depending on the severity.
Another tip is to find out if anyone else around you is sick too. Since a cold is contagious and an allergy is not, another similar sickness usually indicates a cold.