Difference between cold and allergy

Colds and Allergies

Colds and allergies are two different medical conditions that affect both children and adults. As per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), usually a person can be affected by two or three colds in a year. Children are likely to be more prone to colds.

In another view, allergies are observed as very common medical conditions among people. Throughout the world, every year, a very high number of people are affected frequently by an allergic medical condition.

The symptoms of both cold & an allergic reaction are often similar, but they are two different medical conditions altogether. Both have different causes and their symptoms vary in type and duration. Identifying which condition a person is suffering from determines the most appropriate treatment.

For example, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing are common indications of a cold.  But they can also be signs of an allergy. So the detection of differences between an allergy and a cold, will be helpful for the treatment as well as provide fast relief from the above mentioned medical conditions.

What is a cold?

Also, termed as “the common cold,” it’s basically caused by different types of viruses. The symptoms vary upon the severity of the cold condition.

Some Facts about a cold:

  • It’s transmitted through virus droplets
  • Other than coughing and sneezing, a sore throat and a runny, stuffy nose are very common symptoms
  • The severity of this medical condition cause headaches, fevers and body aches
  • Recovery is usually quick. Usually, it takes 7 to 10 days
  • A serious infection, sinus infection, pneumonia or bronchitis can happen if the symptoms persist for more than a week or two
  • Allergy infected people may be more prone to colds
  • Due to a less mature immune system, children are affected by a cold more frequently than adults

What are cold and allergies?

Adverse reactions to certain substances by the immune system may result in an allergy.  An allergy triggers, when an allergen responsible for releasing histamines acts as the main factor.

Very common allergy triggers are Flowers, Grass, Trees, weed, pollen, foods, dust mites, animals, moulds etc.

Very common symptoms are:

  • A runny nose
  • A sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Rashes and itchy eyes

Cold vs Allergies at a Glance


  • Time – Mostly during the Fall & Winter months
  • Duration – Gets better within a week
  • Diagnosing test – Throat culture & chest X-ray
  • Treatment – Cough syrups, decongestant nasal spray, pain relievers, Gargles etc. Should always consult a doctor


  • Time – Any time of the Year
  • Duration – Won’t recover unless you get treated or remove the trigger
  • Diagnosing test – an Allergy test
  • Treatment – Antihistamines, Decongestant, nasal corticosteroid, allergy shots etc. Should always consult a doctor

Difference between Cold and Allergy


  • A cough – Usually
  • General aches and pains – Sometimes
  • Fatigue and weakness – Sometimes
  • Itchy eyes – Rarely
  • Sneezing – Usually
  • A sore throat – Usually
  • A runny nose – Usually
  • Stuffy nose – Usually
  • Fever – Sometimes


  • A cough – Sometimes
  • General aches and pains – Never
  • Fatigue and weakness – Sometimes
  • Itchy eyes – Usually
  • Sneezing – Usually
  • A sore throat – Rarely
  • A runny nose – Usually
  • Stuffy nose – Usually
  • Fever – Never
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