How do you find out if you have allergies or cold? You wake up and you find yourself sneezing three times per second, your nose is running like a faucet and you’re almost out of tissues. You feel like you’re having a fever but you’re otherwise fine. Should you come to work? If it’s allergies it won’t infect other people but what if it’s a cold? I’m sure you don’t want to risk spreading a communicable disease to work.
Thankfully, the symptoms of allergies are different and easily distinguishable from the common cold. Answer these 5 quick diagnostic test to find out.
Symptoms of allergies and colds
Allergies and colds may feel the same to you but it’s very important to know which one you have so you can take the right medication. Going to work with a cold is not a good idea because you can spread it to other people but for allergies it’s no problem. Some symptoms are very good indicators of allergies and some symptoms indicate colds. Here’s the list.
Itchy, watery or puffy eyes
Having itchy or watery eyes is very strong indicator that you’re having allergies. Colds which are viral in nature normally do not cause itchy or watery eyes. Pollen, dust and animal dander are the usual air-borne allergens that cause this. Itchy or watery eyes may indicate eye allergies or nasal allergies, or hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
From time to time, the body’s immune system may overreact to things like pollen, fur or dander which are totally harmless, and tags them as intruders. To fight these supposed intruders, the body would release histamine along with other substances which then makes the eyes itchy or watery. They also make the eyes red and puffy.
It’s important to note the timing of this symptom. If you are getting itchy or watery eyes at particular times of the year regularly, the allergic reaction could be caused by pollen or the seasonal shedding of fur by certain animals. If it happens all year long, it could be caused by a pet, neighbor’s pets, dust and dust mites, or even fungus.
Allergy medicines or antihistamines can be bought over-the-counter and can quickly help with your itchy or watery eyes.
Fever is the body’s reaction to an infection whether viral or bacterial. Colds or even the flu are caused by a variety of viruses and the body raises it’s temperature to fight the invaders giving you a fever. Allergies do not normally come with a fever so if you’re having one especially a high-grade fever it’s probably a cold.
Pollen in the spring can cause hay fever but this term is a misnomer and it is actually allergic rhinitis. It is not caused by hay and it doesn’t come with a fever. If you are sneezing and having a runny nose but no fever, we can say you are most probably having allergies and not a cold.
Headaches can be caused by many things but allergy is not one of them. Headaches can be associated with a cold or flu. Sometimes you may get a sinus congestion due to allergies. In this case, try to observe where the pain is coming from. This can help you identify if your headache is due to a cold or sinus congestion by allergies. A sinus congestion can lead to a headache over the sinus area and it can feel like facial pain. If it feels like an ordinary headache, then it could be from a cold and not allergies.
Body aches and pains
Aches can be a sign of infection. Colds which are viral infections can sometimes cause slight body or joint pains. Body aches and pains should not happen with allergies. If you are sneezing and having pains, you could be having a cold or flu but not allergies.
Clear, watery mucus or nasal secretions
Mucus color is an easy way to check whether you have allergies or a cold.
Mucus acts like a moisturizing protective barrier produced by mucous membranes. It also protects your body by trapping and keeping foreign objects such as bacteria, viruses, dust, pollen or other allergens out of the body.
When you blow your nose, notice the color of the mucus. Colds will usually cause yellow, green or brown mucus or nasal secretions. This is because when you get a cold, the body mixes the mucus with white blood cells which contain greenish colored enzymes to fight the infection. This is also why your mucus is thick when you get a cold. The mucus can turn brownish when the green mixes with blood due to irritation of the nostril.
For allergies, the mucus or nasal secretions should be clear and watery. This is due to the histamine being released by the body which sends the mucus production into overdrive. Since there is no infection in case of allergies, the mucus stays clear and watery.
You might notice a change in your voice when you get sick. This is usually due to laryngitis which is an inflammation of the vocal cords. The inflammation is usually caused by a viral infection. This can be the same virus that causes the common cold. Sometimes the thick mucus you get from a cold can also cause a hoarse voice.
Allergies are not caused by viruses or bacteria. The mucus is usually watery and does not block the throat. A hoarse voice can sometimes be caused by allergies but most often it is caused by an infection that comes with the cold.