The dreaded common cold. If you’ve ever had one, you know that it feels anything but common. Everyone knows the classic symptoms:
• Stuffy head
• Drippy nose
• Watery eyes
• Sore throat
But wait a minute. Those are all symptoms of allergies, too, and allergies affect people of all ages. So, how do you know if you have allergies or a cold?
The Ailments, Explained
The most common allergy is seasonal allergic rhinitis. This is better known as hay fever. About 35 million Americans suffer from hay fever.
However, the problem isn’t actually hay – It’s inhaled pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Pollen makes your body create histamine. This is the chemical that causes your misery. Allergy symptoms can last from weeks to months, depending on the cause.
The common cold is actually an upper respiratory infection. It can be caused by over 200 different viruses. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks.
How to Spot the Difference Between the Common Cold and Allergies
Symptoms of both ailments are similar. But there are a few that differ.
Likely cause: Allergies. A cold will not usually cause itching. But itchy eyes, ears, nose and mouth can be a big problem with allergies.
Symptom: Thick, discolored nasal discharge
Likely cause: Cold. With allergies, nasal discharge is usually clear and watery.
Likely cause: Cold. Allergies do not cause fever. An infection like a cold can.
Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms, or if you aren’t sure which ailment you have. Some medicines can help treat your cold or allergy symptoms, but be careful with drug interactions. For example, decongestants can increase blood pressure or interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed blood pressure medications. Ask your doctor or Rite Aid pharmacist to check for interactions before adding any new medication to your current drug therapy.
And don’t forget that two of the best treatments for a cold are usually rest and plenty of fluids.
Rite Aid wants to help make it a little easier to take care of your allergies. Now you can purchase the allergy and sinus products you want to manage your allergies and be rewarded for it.
“Allergic Rhinitis: Causes & Risk Factors.” American Academy of Family Physicians. Reviewed/updated August 2015. familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/allergic-rhinitis/causes-risk-factors.html.
“Allergies.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Updated 12/3/14. www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118492.htm.
“Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. Updated August 17, 2011. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/commonCold/Pages/default.aspx.
“Is It Allergies or a Cold? How to Tell the Difference.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Updated 11/21/15. www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/allergies-asthma/pages/Is-It-Allergies-or-a-Cold-How-to-Tell-the-Difference.aspx.
“Over-the-Counter Medications,” American Heart Association. Reviewed October 2015. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Over-the-Counter-Medications_UCM_303245_Article.jsp.
Pollen Allergy. National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, National Institutes of Health. July 2015. www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/allergicDiseases/Documents/PollenAllergyFactSheet.pdf.
“Rhinitis (Hay Fever): Tips to Remember.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/rhinitis.aspx.