FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Colds and allergies can
cause similar symptoms, and finding out which condition you have is
the first step in getting relief, according to the American College
of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Colds are caused by one of more than 200 viruses that get
transmitted from person to person. Allergies, which are not
contagious, are caused by allergens, such as pollen, that prompt
the immune system to overreact.
In spring, high levels of tree and grass pollens cause sneezing
and other cold-like symptoms for the estimated 60 million Americans
with allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.
There are a number of ways to distinguish between spring
allergies and a cold, says the ACAAI. Colds generally evolve,
starting with a stuffy nose, throat irritation and low-grade fever,
followed by sneezing and a runny nose with thickening mucus that
often turns yellow or green. Common allergy symptoms include
sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, but the mucus is typically
While colds usually last a week or two, allergy symptoms persist
and can even get worse with continued exposure to the allergen
causing your symptoms. Spring allergies can last six weeks or
Aches and fever most likely indicate a cold, while itchy eyes
are strong evidence of allergies.
A sore throat and cough can occur with allergies, but most
likely suggest a cold. Coughing is common in colds but can also be
a sign of allergy-related asthma, especially in children. People
with a persistent cough should see an allergist, the ACAAI
The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery
has more about