Last updated on July 21st, 2022 at 03:47 pm
It’s that time of year when you may find yourself wondering if that sniffle is the start of a cold or an onset of an allergy. It’s hard to tell sometimes because both share similar symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, runny nose or sinus congestion. However, there are some key differences.
Colds are caused by viruses that are contagious while allergies are caused by an overactive immune system but are not contagious, says Boiron pharmacist Christophe Merville, adding that cold symptoms take a few days to appear after you are infected while allergies pop up quickly after contact with an allergen.
The main difference is the presence of the allergen, says Merville. “People quickly determine that their symptoms recur when the pet is nearby, or when pollen season occurs,” he says. “Colds can happen any time, even during summer.”
Merville says that a sore throat or a cough can be a sign of both, however, these symptoms stem from allergies due to post nasal drip not a viral infection. “Itchiness” is not a typical cold symptom unless you are about to sneeze, he says adding that if your eyes or throat feels itchy, it may be due to hay fever. Mucus is another indicator, but at a later stage, according to Merville. If the mucus discharge stays clear then it is most likely allergies. With colds, mucus can thicken or become discolored.
Another difference is the length of symptoms. “Colds last about one to two weeks but allergies can last a several weeks or more as long as you are in contact with the allergen,” says Merville.
Knowing what you have will make it easier to find the right homeopathic medicine for relief of your symptoms. You can explore the free Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Finder app to see which medicine best meets your needs in three clicks or less.