What is the difference between an allergy and a cold?

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hello I'm dr. Mitchell Grayson an

associate professor at the Medical

College of Wisconsin in the department

of pediatrics section of allergy

immunology a fellow of the american

academy of allergy and immunology and a

board-certified allergist so you've been

sneezing your nose is running and it

feels like you're breathing through a

straw could this be your allergies or do

you have a cold well today I'd like to

speak to you about how to tell the

difference between allergies and a cold

first of all it is important to

recognize that the difference in the

cause of allergies and colds allergies

are due to the body producing a protein

an antibody against something to which

you should not react think of ragweed

pollen or cat dander this means that

whatever you encounter ragweed pollen or

cat dander you will likely have an

allergic attack colds on the other hand

are due to viruses that are spread from

person to person usually through

airborne droplets or by physical contact

say shaking hands which by the way is

why it's always a good idea to wash your

hands both allergies and colds will

cause sneezing and a runny and stuffy


however with colds you will often have a

sore throat and cough to things not

usually seen with nasal allergies

however if you do have asthma an allergy

attack can lead to a cough as well you

can have a fever and slight aches and

pains with a cold these are things not

seen with allergies some symptoms

associated with allergies but not colds

are itchy and watery eyes and symptoms

that repeat every year at about the same

time which is probably due to the fact

that that's when you're being exposed to

the things to which you are allergic one

of the best ways to distinguish between

colds and allergies is how long the

symptoms last colds rarely lasts beyond

14 days while allergies will often last

for several weeks colds are also usually

associated with contacts and family

members having similar symptoms at the

same time although it is possible that

with allergies your family members might

have the same type of sensitivities and

be allergic to the same things so they

might have symptoms at the same time as

well why should you care well the

treatment for allergies is different for

that for colds in most cases the

treatment for colds is to treat the

symptoms however for allergies we have

treatments that can help to turn off the

allergic response so if you are having

symptoms that you believe may be a

result of allergies see an allergist

allergists have the tools to determine

what it is to which you might be

allergic and how best to provide the

treatment that can stop your suffering

so check out the academy website today