Allergies or a Cold? Learn the Differences | Afrin

How Can I Tell
if It’s Allergies
or a Cold?

Similar symptoms. Different causes.

To understand the difference between a cold and allergies, it is important to know that some cold symptoms are actually the same as some allergy symptoms. Plus, everyone experiences colds and allergies a little differently. It’s no wonder why it can be challenging to figure out exactly what’s going on.

What are allergies?

An allergy is an exaggerated reaction of your immune system to otherwise harmless substances (allergens such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold). When you come into contact with these allergens, your body confuses them with harmful substances and attacks them by releasing chemicals such as histamine into the body. These chemicals cause you to experience allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, or stuffy nose. Allergies are never contagious, but they can run in the family.

What is a cold?

Although allergies share many of the same symptoms as colds, colds are different. Cold symptoms occur when a virus gets into your body and your immune system attacks it. This can cause some of the same symptoms such as sneezing and nasal congestion, also seen with allergies.

But there are some key differences. Germs that cause colds are contagious. You can become infected when someone with cold symptoms sneezes, coughs, or touches you.

Luckily, cold symptoms tend to disappear in 7 to 10 days. If cold symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, consider contacting your doctor.

The signs of a cold versus allergies

Symptoms for allergies can vary and can be more prevalent in the spring and fall for seasonal allergy sufferers. Colds can cause different symptoms and sometimes, the symptoms may be more severe. This chart explains some of the differences.

Is it a Cold or an Allergy?

SYMPTOM COLD AIRBORNE ALLERGY

  Cough

  Common

  Sometimes

  General Aches/Pains

  Sometimes

  Never

  Fatigue Or Weakness

  Sometimes

  Sometimes

  Itchy Eyes

  Rare Or Never

  Common

  Sneezing

  Common

  Common

  Sore Throat    

  Common

  Sometimes

  Runny Nose    

  Common

  Common

  Stuffy Nose    

  Common

  Common

  Fever

  Rare

  Never

  Duration

  3 to 14 days

  Weeks

   (for example, 6 weeks for ragweed or  
    grass pollen seasons)

Source: Adapted from NIH Medline Plus

Don’t hold your breath while you wait to find out.

Whether you have a cold, allergies or both, Afrin can help relieve your nasal congestion when used as directed. It goes to work right away, helping you breathe more freely in seconds – and lasts 12 hours.

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