Cold or allergy? We tell you what they are and what are their differences

These conditions have symptoms in common, making it extremely difficult to distinguish between a cold, or an allergy. A cold usually affects kids, but can also affect old people at some time of the year. An allergy can affect everyone no matter their ages. Therefore, today we want to talk to you about the differences of each of them and even their causes.

What is a cold?

It is a viral infection of the nose and throat. It is usually harmless and can occur once or twice a year. Many types of viruses can cause the common cold.

Children under the age of 6 are at higher risk for colds, however adults can also get colds at least two to three times a year.

Causes of a cold

As we have mentioned above, many types of viruses can cause a cold, but rhinoviruses are the common culprits.

The culprit viruses enter the body through the mouth, eyes, and nose. The virus spreads through airborne droplets when someone around who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also be spread by hand-to-hand contact with someone who already has a cold or even by sharing utensils, towels, toys, or phones.

Cold symptoms

The symptoms of a cold usually appear one to three days after having contact with the virus, the symptoms are as follows:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Low fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body or head pain
  • General discomfort

Sometimes a runny nose can thicken and turn yellow or green as a common cold runs its course.

What is an allergy?

An allergy appears just when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance. Either from pollen, bee venom, pet dander or even a food that does not cause a reaction in most people who eat it.

The immune system produces substances called antibodies. When an allergy occurs, this system produces antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, but not yet being so. Upon contact with the allergen, the reaction of the system can cause the skin, sinuses, airways or digestive tract to become inflamed.

Causes of an allergy

Some of the most common causes of an allergy are:

Airborne allergens: pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold.

Food: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, and milk.

Insect stings: like bee or wasp

Medications: especially penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics.

Latex or other substances: can cause allergic skin reactions.

Symptoms of an allergy

The symptoms of an allergy depend on the substance involved. An allergy can affect the airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system.

Some of the most common symptoms of an allergy are:

  • Itch
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tingle
  • Sneezing
  • Watery, irritated, and puffy eyes
  • Snot and stuffy nose
  • Cough

Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In some cases, severe ones can be life threatening, this is known as anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock. Some of its symptoms are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Acne
  • Daze
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing

It is also important to take preventive measures such as a medical alert bracelet and avoid known triggers.

Allergies and colds can be confused as they have very similar symptoms, however, it is important to know that they are totally different, so they need to be treated differently. Consult a doctor before trying to medicate, as symptoms of a cold can be confused with those of an allergy.

Autor: Doctoranytime


1.- Mayo Clinic