General Question

emilyrose's avatar

How do I know the difference between being sick with a cold and having allergies? How do I treat these two things differently?

Asked by emilyrose (2269points) October 24th, 2008

I have a sore throat and some congestion, and have also been sneezing. I feel tired and physically weak. Normally I have lots of energy and exercise a lot. I doubt I could handle much exercise at all today. A co-worker said he sometimes thinks he is getting a cold but it turns out to be allergies. How do I know?

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10 Answers

Mr_M's avatar

You see an ENT doctor.

gailcalled's avatar

In my case, allergies make me sneeze a lot and have a post-nasal drip in back of throat. I don’t get tired or find it interferes with exercise and have not had sore throats. Cold generates general malaise; allergies strike particular body parts (sometimes hives, runny nose or eyes only.)

emilyrose's avatar

@gail—- that’s kinda what I was thinking : )

asmonet's avatar

A fever would be a pretty good hint I’d imagine. I don’t have allergies so I’m not positive. :)

But yes, I would see a doctor.

gailcalled's avatar

With either allergies or the common cold, you could wait a few days. For a cold, fluids, rest, warmth, tylenol…for allergies, keep kleenex in purse and try eye drops. If your joints are aching, that is not allergies. Asmonet has a good, common-sensical point. Take your temp.

jvgr's avatar

The adverse symptoms of airborne allergens can usually be minimized with antihistamines (Benadryl, etc). Cold’s won’t be affected.

Allergic reactions usually occur in the spring/summer, but your office environment could also be responsible for the growth and distribution of allergens.

cdwccrn's avatar

fever is more common with flu than colds. Colds may have aches, pains, decreased energy. Allergies have nasal/sinus congestion, runny nose(clear fluid), sneezing. Headache associated with sinus pressure. Treat with antihistamines or other allergy meds.
Colds may move to chest with cough, nonclear sputum, sorethroat, chest tightness. Treat with rest, lots of fluid to thin secretions, Tylenol for aches. Lots of hand washing.

critter1982's avatar

Without being too graphic:
Typically when I have allergies my snot is clear
When I have some sort of cold or illness it is “not clear”

deaddolly's avatar

Allergies come on all at once for me, a cold sneaks up and attacks.

sdeutsch's avatar

I usually go with jvgr’s suggestion when I can’t tell the difference – take a Benadryl, and if the symptoms don’t go away, you know you’ve got a cold. Cold symptoms are trickier to treat, but I haven’t found an allergy problem that Benadryl won’t get rid of (although, it will probably make you sleepy too!)

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