As we transition into cooler fall weather, it can be challenging to tell whether that scratchy throat and runny nose you’re experiencing is from allergies or a cold. Below we review the causes and symptoms of each as well as how to tell which you likely are suffering from.
What Causes Allergies?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with allergies, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen at FDR Park, pet dander, dust mites, certain foods, mold and insect stings as dangerous intruders. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause inflammation, leading to symptoms such as:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Sore/scratchy throat
- Postnasal drip
What Causes a Cold?
The common cold is caused by a virus. There are many different types of viruses responsible for colds, and they are transmitted through droplets a sick person spreads when they cough or sneeze. The average duration of a cold is seven to ten days.
Most adults catch two to three colds each year. Young children tend to catch more colds because their immune systems are less mature.
Cold symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Body aches
How to Tell the Difference
Because allergies and colds share many symptoms, it can be difficult to tell which you’re experiencing. However, there are some symptoms that don’t overlap that can help point you in the right direction.
If you have itchy eyes, wheezing or a rash, you’re probably experiencing allergies. If this is the case, you should see an allergist who can help you manage your symptoms.
If you are fatigued, feel achy or have a fever, you likely have a cold. If you have a cold, make sure to rest and hydrate while you wait for it to pass.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.