Mistaken Identity: Allergy or Cold?

allergy and cold

It’s winter, so you expect to get colds… frequently. But you might not be aware that what you think is a cold is actually allergies. Allergies can strike during the winter months. How can you tell the difference between the two conditions? Read on to learn about how to determine whether you’ve got a cold or allergies.

Colds vs. Allergies

Colds are caused by a virus. The virus enters your body, then your immune system responds. Your immune system defends your body against germs. When it discovers that the cold virus has invaded, it launches a counter-attack. The counter-attack means you’ll experience symptoms such as a stuffy nose or a cough. Those are symptoms that frequently accompany allergies, so it’s not surprising that people confuse the two. Also, colds are extremely contagious. You can pass along the cold virus by sneezing or coughing on someone.

Allergies, on the other hand, aren’t caused by a virus. Rather, they’re a response of your immune system. Your body thinks that things such as pollen, dust or animal dander are germs. Whenever it encounters these triggers, it launches an attack. As with a cold, you’ll most likely start sneezing and coughing when you come into contact with the things that cause your body’s allergic reaction. Unlike the cold virus, allergies aren’t contagious. Sneezing and coughing on someone won’t cause them to have an allergic reaction.

How to Tell a Cold and Allergies Apart

There are two main characteristics allergies possess that a cold does not. They are how quickly they start and how long they last.

A cold can take a few days to develop. When you come into contact with an allergen, you will experience a reaction immediately. Also, a cold will eventually go away. As long as you’re in contact with an allergy trigger, you’ll continue to have an allergic reaction. So, if you’ve been sneezing, coughing or experiencing itchy, watery eyes for more than two weeks, it’s allergies.

Houston Sinus & Allergy: Your Allergy Experts

Do you think you’re suffering from allergies? Contact Houston Sinus & Allergy today. Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training & experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.

Click here to book an assessment, or call us at the number posted at the top of the page.

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