If you are experiencing uncomfortable respiratory symptoms, you may believe you have caught a cold, but it could also be allergies causing the symptoms. Sometimes, the symptoms are similar, but there are also distinct differences between the common cold and allergy discomfort. Here are some facts to help you determine which is causing the problem:

Is It A Cold or An Allergy?

  • A cold will last for about 3 to 14 days. Allergy symptoms can last much longer, for weeks, months or as long as you are in contact with the allergen.
  • Most colds occur during the winter months, but can also occur during warmer months. Allergies can be seasonal or year-round, depending on the type of allergen.
  • Cold symptoms usually come on gradually. Allergy symptoms come on all at once, as soon as you are exposed to the allergen.
  • Colds sometimes produce a fever, body aches and cough. Allergies never produce fever symptoms or body aches, and they rarely produce a cough.
  • Both conditions can cause itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, sore throat and fatigue.

Treating Cold and Allergy Symptoms

Consumers can find a wide range of cold and allergy products on the market. These products often contain a combination of ingredients, some of which you may not need. For this reason, knowing whether you have a cold or an allergy problem can help you to treat the symptoms more effectively with the right product.

Medications For Colds

Cold medications are often sold as combination products that treat nasal congestion, chest congestion, body aches, headache and fever, all at the same time. These products often contain antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and pain relievers, each of which has its own effects. Consumers should read the labels carefully to understand the compounds that are in the product so that they avoid duplicating the medication by taking cough medicine, aspirin or other compounds.

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Medications For Allergies

Allergy sufferers have a dizzying number of products that help to relieve symptoms. These products may be in pill, spray, inhaler or liquid form. All of them serve to dry up runny noses and eyes and reduce itchiness and swelling. Pills such as Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra are popular choices for allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays can help individuals who are primarily troubled with nasal symptoms. Eyedrops are available for individuals who just want a medication for itchy, watery eyes. Some allergy medications, such as Dymista, contain a combination of allergy-relieving ingredients that help to reduce symptoms more effectively.

Determining whether you have a cold or an allergy can help you to treat the problem more effectively. Always read product labels carefully to understand what compounds are in the medication and what they do.