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Is it seasonal allergies or a cold? Hmm…

Sneezing, runny nose, cough, fatigue, and headaches are common symptoms of both a cold and allergies. If you tend to get “colds” that develop suddenly and occur at the same time every year, it’s possible that you may have seasonal allergies. Although colds and seasonal allergies may share some of the same symptoms, they are very different. Common colds are caused by viruses, while seasonal allergies are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens, such as pollen or pet dander. If you are allergic to something in your home, your symptoms could get worse during the winter months, because the house is sealed up and fresh air isn’t getting in.


There are five key differences between the symptoms of a cold and allergies:


  1. Color of Nasal Discharge

The color of your nasal discharge tells you what’s going on. If yellow or green, then there might be an infection or cold. With allergies, your nasal discharge will usually be clear.


  1. Sore vs. Itchy Throat

A sore, painful throat is a symptom of a cold. The lymph nodes in the neck can become swollen in response to an upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold. If your throat is only dry and scratchy, it is more likely to be allergies.


  1. Itchy Eyes and Nose

Itchy eyes, nose, and throat are symptoms of allergies. It is unlikely to experience these with a cold. Children with allergies will often have watery eyes and rub their noses in an upward motion to relieve the itchiness.


  1. Presence of a Fever

A fever is your body’s way of fighting off an illness by making your body temperature higher and less suitable for bacteria and viruses. Your body will only develop a fever if you have an illness, including a cold. Hay fever does not actually cause a fever.


  1. Timing and Duration

Did your symptoms come on all at once, particularly when you were likely exposed to pollen, dust, or another allergen? If your symptoms occurred when pollen counts were high, you most likely have allergies. Did your symptoms worsen over time? You may have a cold. Allergies will last as long as you are exposed to an allergen, but a cold will only last between 3 and 14 days.


Treatment of a common cold may include rest, pain relievers and over-the-counter cold remedies, such as decongestants. A cold usually lasts three to 10 days, although some may last as long as two or three weeks. Treatment of seasonal allergies may include over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays and decongestants, and avoidance of exposure to allergens where possible. Seasonal allergies may last several weeks. If your allergy symptoms last for an extended period, it may be worth a visit to the allergist.


If you do end up needing to see us during this cold season, remember to download our app or use our call ahead care line so that you can wait at home and receive a text or call when an exam room is ready for you.


Here at Next Level, we wish you a Happy and Healthy Winter Season!


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