Cold or Allergy? How to Tell the Difference

This is a sponsored post from Minute Clinic. I have received promotional consideration from Minute Clinic.

I love almost everything about spring! It’s the most beautiful shade of green outside! But next to the green there’s too much yellow from pollen. After a recent rain, all the puddles were edged with pollen. Just looking at it made me itch.

Right now my daughter might have a cold, but it also might be allergies. IMG_4215

What IS an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Mold, dust, pollen, pet dander, and even some foods can cause allergic reactions. I’m allergic to cilantro, so I have to ask in restaurants before I order. It’s a pain, but it’s better than the alternative!

Seasonal allergies are pretty common here in the south. While all the flowering plants are dropping pollen in the spring, there’s pollen here as long as the temperatures are warm. In fact, my fall seasonal allergies are worse than my spring problems.

What causes seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies are a reaction to small airborne substances. These allergens are small proteins that usually float around in the spring, summer and fall. But could my daughter’s current symptoms be from a cold?

Yes, but while a cold will typically clear up comparatively quickly (within 7-10 days) if it’s allergies it can last weeks or even months.

Colds vs. Allergies

Did you know that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies and don’t even know it? That’s because many people confuse the symptoms of spring allergies with a common cold. Here’s what you need to know about the two:

The main difference between a cold and allergies is that a cold is caused by a viral infection while allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s own immune system’s attempt to fight off an allergen.

If you start sniffling and coughing at the same time each year and your symptoms come on suddenly, it may be allergies.

If you have a cough, it’s probably a cold. Most people with a cold will have a cough, but not everyone with allergies has this symptom.

If you’re aching all over, it’s probably a cold, not allergies. Aches and pains are not symptoms of allergies.

Itchy eyes are a common symptom of allergies but RARELY occur with the common cold!

If you have a fever, it’s not allergies! A fever is sometimes present with a cold, but will never occur with allergies.

Treatment and Relief:

Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well.

There are plenty of options for treatment and relief. At MinuteClinic, the nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate.

If you’re diagnosed with allergies, medication may help relieve your symptoms. The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen – whatever it may be. We’ve tried local honey as a treatment for allergies, but that didn’t work for us.

Since my daughter doesn’t have a fever or cough, we are pretty sure she has seasonal allergies. We’ve been to our local Minute Clinic before, and would go again if we think she needs to have a medical opinion and treatment.

My daughter claims she’s allergic to her sister, but we decided to keep them both—for now!

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