A  A  A   Print
Is It an Allergy or a Cold?

Is It an Allergy or a Cold?

Seasonal allergies and colds have similar symptoms but some important differences. The following information from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases can help you determine if you're suffering from allergies or a cold.

Hay fever

Symptoms are more common in the spring, summer, and early fall:

  • Runny or stuffy nose; mucus is generally clear and watery

  • Bouts of sneezing, often brought on by exposure to offending agent

  • Wheezing, most frequently seen in individuals with asthma; wheezing is unusual in people without asthma

  • Watery eyes, with whites of eyes possibly reddened or bloodshot

  • Fluid-filled and puffy areas around the eyes

  • In young children, "allergic shiners," a darkened appearance around the eyes cause by congestion of blood in the blood vessels

  • In young children, a frequent "allergic salute," or the habit of wiping the nose upward with the palm of the hand; this can lead to an "allergic crease," a prominent horizontal crease across the nose at the end of cartilage that is produced by repeated "allergic salutes"

Development of symptoms: Symptoms appear soon after you're exposed to an allergen. Seasonal pollen allergies appear at about the same time every year.

Duration of symptoms: Symptoms last as long as you're exposed to the allergen. Weeks or months of symptoms are not unusual with seasonal pollen allergies.

Colds

Colds and their symptoms are more common in the fall and winter, but can occur year-round. Possible symptoms include:

  • Nasal symptoms similar to those of hay fever

  • Increased mucus production in the nose

  • Lack of energy

  • Burning in the nose or sore throat may be present

  • Muscle aches and pains

  • Low grade fever in some cases

  • Wheezing, but only in people with asthma

Development of symptoms: It generally takes a day or two for full symptoms to develop.

Duration of symptoms: A cold should clear up within a week or so. Symptoms lasting longer than a week or worsening symptoms may suggest a secondary infection.

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.