Do You Have an Allergy or a Cold?

Oh no, not again! You're congested, you're coughing and your nose is runny. Do you have an allergy or a cold? You need to know which it is so you can treat your symptoms successfully.

How an Allergy or a Cold Happens
Allergies are not contagious. They are caused by allergens such as mold, pollen, dust mites or pet dander. Your body incorrectly decides the allergens are harmful germs and attacks them. As a result, your immune system goes into high gear and releases chemicals that cause the unpleasant symptoms of allergies.

Colds are contagious. They are caused by hundreds of viruses that travel from one person to another. Your immune system attacks these viruses. The effect is that you end up with unwanted cold symptoms.

Symptoms of Allergies and Colds
If you are suffering from allergies, you will experience symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes. You may be sneezing. Often you will have a runny, stuffy nose with a clear mucus. Sometimes you will have a sore throat or a cough.

If it is a cold that is making you feel miserable, you will likely have a runny, stuffy nose with a yellow or green mucus. This will often be accompanied by a sore throat or a cough. You may sometimes experience aches and fever with a cold, but you will hardly ever experience itchy, watery eyes.

Other Clues to Whether You Have an Allergy or a Cold
Allergies can occur any time of the year but more often during the spring and fall months. They can last a few days or months, depending on how long you are around the allergen. If you have noticed that you experience congestion, coughing and a runny nose at the same time every year, you can correctly suspect that you are experiencing the effects of an allergy.

Colds usually occur during the winter months but can be any time of the year. They usually do not last longer than 14 days. If you are suffering from symptoms longer than two weeks, you can be reasonably sure that you have an allergy rather than a cold.

Prevention of an Allergy or Cold
To spare yourself the unpleasantness of allergy symptoms, avoid the allergens that your body does not like. If you are allergic to mold or animal dander, for instance, buy an air purifier for your house. If you are allergic to pollen, keep your windows closed and stay inside as much as you can on days with a high pollen count.

To have a cold-free winter, stop the viruses that cause a cold from getting into your body. If you can, stay away from people who have colds. Wash your hands many times a day. Be a good friend or co-worker by always covering your nose and mouth when you are sneezing or coughing. Do this by either using a tissue or your sleeve. Never use just your bare hand to cover your nose or mouth.

Sometimes you may end up with the dreaded symptoms, even though you are practicing good prevention techniques. In that case, determining whether you have an allergy or a cold is the first step to finding relief .

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