There are very similar symptoms when it comes to having a cold or allergies. However, knowing the difference between the two conditions is essential to choosing the right course of treatment. Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, can cause you to have itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose and other symptoms that easily resemble the symptoms of the common cold. However, here are a few tips on how to tell the difference.
The Common Cold
These two bothersome conditions cause several of the same symptoms. These symptoms include coughing and a stuffed-up nose. However, they certainly have different causes. With the common cold, the symptoms are brought up because your immune system is launching a counter attack on an invading virus. These viruses are contagious and can be picked up from someone else through sneezes, coughs or physical contact of any sort.
These symptoms should only last a maximum of a few weeks, until your body is able to completely fend off the virus.
Hay Fever (Seasonal Allergies)
However, your seasonal allergies have an entirely different cause. Everyday contaminants such as dust, dander and pollen are mistaken for invading germs and your body’s natural reaction is to attack them. During this attack on harmless allergens, your body releases a chemical called a histamine – inducing undesirable symptoms that are similar to the common cold (coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes). This is why doctors will recommend allergy-sufferers to use an anti-histamine medication to counteract the body’s natural response.
Unlike the common cold, allergies are not contagious because there is no virus to spread to others. Allergies tend to be a genetic reaction to everyday airborne allergens.
|How long do symptoms last?||3-14 days||Days to months – as long as your body is exposed to the allergen causing the reaction.|
|When would I get symptoms?||Colds are most common in the winter but if you are exposed to the virus, contraction is possible at any time.||Any time of year – although the allergens may be seasonal|
|Incubation Periods||Symptoms will take a few days to show up after being infected.||Symptoms will begin immediately after exposure to the triggering allergen.