Is It A Cold Or Fall Allergies?

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 10/13/2016

woman-with-cold-fever.pngAs the weather turns cooler and you start to have a runny nose and watery, puffy eyes, it may be difficult to determine whether you have a cold or fall allergies. Many people misdiagnose themselves, particularly when they’ve never experienced allergy symptoms before. Understanding the key differences between colds and fall allergies will help you seek proper treatment.

Occurrence Of Symptoms

Typically, allergy symptoms present all at once and stay the same over the course of the season. Cold symptoms are more likely to present separately. Generally, a cold begins with sneezing, then progresses to a runny nose, and finally moves to full congestion before clearing up. Some people also experience a sore, painful throat during a cold, which may result in a hoarse speaking voice or loss of speech altogether.

Duration Of Symptoms

Most colds run their full course within three to 10 days. Allergy symptoms persist while allergens (i.e. ragweed pollen, mold spores) are present, not dying down until the first hard frost. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for longer than two weeks, discuss the possibility of seasonal allergies with your doctor.

Presentation Of Symptoms

Sneezing is common for both colds and allergies. You may have repeated sneezing occurrences with two or three sneezes in short succession. For allergies, frequent sneezing and wheezing is the body’s response to shed harmful allergens. You’ll cough more with a cold. If the sneezing and coughing is accompanied by itchy eyes or mouth, most likely you’re suffering from allergies.

Generally, a runny nose, nasal drip, and congestion consist of clear, thin, watery mucus discharge for allergies and a yellowish, thicker mucus discharge for colds, due to infection. People may experience a fever with a cold. It’s highly unlikely that a fever would be associated with allergies.

Food Reactions

Eating certain foods may trigger seasonal allergies. Cucumbers, bananas, cantaloupe, chamomile tea, and raw, unpeeled apples contain proteins with a similar protein structure to certain types of pollen, most notably, ragweed. Eating these foods produces an itching around the mouth.

Time Of Year

Seasonal allergies are most common in the spring and fall when the plants are pollinating. If you suffer from other types of allergies, such as dust or cat dander, you may have allergy symptoms year round. Seasonal allergies will only present for two to three months at a time or less. Colds are more common in the winter.

Many of our patients experience puffy, watery eyes in the fall as a result of colds or allergies. Discuss your symptoms during your next appointment with the doctors at Broome Optical so we can work to treat them accordingly.

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