Is It A Cold Or Allergies?
The symptoms of colds and allergies may seem similar, but there are also important differences. Learn the differences between the symptoms of a cold and allergies.
What Is A Cold?
Colds are infections of the upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nasal passages, throat and larynx). They are caused by several different viruses and are spread by touching a person with a cold, or touching object that someone with a cold has touched, or by breathing the virus in the air after someone with a cold has coughed or sneezed into the air.
Common cold symptoms may include:
- Stuffy, runny nose
- Scratchy, tickly throat
- Watering eyes
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
- Mild hacking cough
- Achy muscles and bones
- Mild fatigue
- Watery discharge from nose that thickens and turns yellow or green
Colds usually start 2 to 3 days after the virus enters the body. Symptoms last from several days to several weeks.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies (hay fever) are caused by the immune system reacting to pollen from trees, grasses and weeds as if they were harmful to the body. This reaction causes symptoms that can be similar to a cold. Allergies often run in families. Seasonal allergies occur at the same time each year. If your child has allergy symptoms all year long, he or she may be allergic to things in the home, such as dust mites, animals, mold and cockroaches.
Allergies can cause itchy, watery eyes, which aren't typical symptoms of a cold or flu.
Other common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose, throat, eyes, and ears
- Clear drainage from the nose
Usually, allergy symptoms last as long as you're exposed to the trigger.
The following table is a guide to cold and allergy symptoms. See your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.