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Is it a cold and an airborne allergy?

A cold and an airborne allergy are two different conditions that affect the respiratory system and have distinct underlying causes, symptoms, and treatment approaches.

Cold (Common Cold): A cold, also known as the common cold, is a viral infection primarily caused by rhinoviruses. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with infected individuals or surfaces. The symptoms of a cold can include:

  1. Runny or stuffy nose: This is often accompanied by congestion and a feeling of fullness in the nasal passages.

  2. Sneezing: Frequent sneezing is a common symptom of a cold.

  3. Sore throat: The throat can become irritated and sore.

  4. Cough: A dry or slightly productive cough can occur.

  5. Fatigue: Feeling tired and lethargic is common.

  6. Mild fever: A low-grade fever might be present, especially in children.

  7. Watery eyes: Eye symptoms can occur but are less common than with allergies.

Airborne Allergy: Airborne allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, are caused by an allergic reaction to airborne particles like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold spores. The immune system reacts to these particles, releasing histamines and other chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms. Symptoms of airborne allergies can include:

  1. Sneezing: Frequent and repetitive sneezing is common.

  2. Runny or stuffy nose: Nasal congestion, runny nose, and itching are prominent.

  3. Itchy and watery eyes: Eye symptoms are a hallmark of allergies.

  4. Cough: A dry, persistent cough might be present due to postnasal drip.

  5. Fatigue: Similar to colds, allergies can cause tiredness.

  6. No fever: Allergies do not typically cause fever.

Key Differences:

  1. Underlying Cause: A cold is caused by viral infections, whereas airborne allergies are triggered by an immune system reaction to allergens.

  2. Contagiousness: Colds are contagious and can spread from person to person, whereas allergies are not contagious.

  3. Fever: Colds can cause mild fever, but allergies do not typically lead to fever.

  4. Duration: Colds usually resolve within 7-10 days, while allergies can persist as long as the person is exposed to the allergen.

  5. Triggers: Cold symptoms are often triggered by exposure to cold viruses, while allergic reactions are triggered by exposure to specific allergens.

  6. Treatment: Colds might require rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms, while airborne allergies can be managed with antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, and allergen avoidance.

If you're unsure whether your symptoms are due to a cold or an allergy, come in and have a chat with one of our pharmacists.


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