Is It a Cold or an Allergy? Reading the Signs

As they share some of the same symptoms, it’s incredibly easy to mistake a cold or flu infection for an allergy. In fact, aside from some key differences, it would take a qualified medical professional to differentiate between the two illnesses.

What Colds and Allergies Have in Common

Although they are very different in nature, viral infections and allergic reactions manifest in very similar ways. This similarity is due to the fact that both illnesses affect the respiratory system. Symptoms of both colds and allergies include constricted airwaysblocked nasal passagescoughingsore throat and wheezing. And because both maladies restrict the sufferers breathing, it’s common for people afflicted by either illness to experience a loss of appetite and a significant drop in their energy level.

The Differences between Colds and Allergies

While there are a large number of differences between cold and allergy symptoms, they can be hard to identify because they are so similar on the surface. For example, a person with a rhinovirus or influenza infection will produce nasal discharge that is a thick consistency and green or yellow in color, whereas someone with an allergy will produce nasal discharge that is thin and clear.  Also, despite the fact seasonal allergies are often referred to as hay fever, a fever is a symptom of viral infection.  Another key difference is that body aches are not symptomatic of an allergy attack. Lastly, whereas it only takes 3 to 12 days for cold or flu virus to pass through your system, allergies are a chronic condition that can be triggered at any time due to exposure to certain allergens.

Other Indicators

Initially, it may be difficult to determine if your son or daughter has contracted a cold or an allergy. In addition to looking out for the differences outlined above, you can also examine outside to determine the nature of your child’s illness. You can ask your child if other children in any of their classes have been ill recently. You should also consider when your child became ill and if they’ve been to any places that have a higher than normal concentration of allergens, like a pet store, basement or farm, right before their symptoms began. And if your family or the child’s other parent has a history of allergies that might factor into their current condition.

Ultimately, only a skilled doctor like Dr. Shulka can truly determine if whether or not a child has an allergy. If aren’t sure about your child’s condition, contact us today to set up an appointment. He can provide you with the help you need.

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