How do you differentiate between symptoms of a common cold and an allergy? A sore throat, runny nose, congestion and cough could indicate either of the two. Even doctors, sometimes, find it challenging to make a distinction. An allergy sore throat is usually a persistent sore throat with other allergy symptoms. Also, unlike the common cold, allergies are not contagious.
What are its causes and concerns?
When cold-causing viruses enter our body, our immune system attacks these pathogens as a defence mechanism. This results in classic cold symptoms like sore throat, cough, fever and nasal congestion. In case of an allergy, owing to an overactive immune system, the body confuses harmless substances (allergens) like airborne dust and pollen for germs and releases chemicals (called histamines) to fight them. This leads to symptoms like swollen nasal passages, runny nose, sneezing, cough and a sore throat.
What are its symptoms?
A cold lasts typically for two weeks at the most, while allergies usually last longer. Some symptoms of both these conditions tend to overlap. For example, a cold is sometimes accompanied by muscle aches or fever, but this never happens with allergies. A sore throat is usually a primary symptom of a cold, but an allergic reaction may not necessarily include a sore throat. If it does happen, it is called allergy sore throat. It is caused when persistent drainage irritates the back of the oral cavity.
If your cold symptoms last for longer than two weeks, it is best to consult an allergy specialist. Apart from allergies, the symptoms may also indicate more severe problems like asthma.
The following symptoms usually characterise an allergy sore throat:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent sore throat
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Pain with swallowing
- Dry throat
What are the solutions and treatment options?
A common cold and an allergy need to be treated differently since their causes are also different. To prevent a cold, you must:
- Try not to let common cold viruses enter your body
- Stay as far away as possible from people who show symptoms of a cold
- Wash your hands frequently
Also, to prevent yourself from spreading your cold to others, you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing
- Use a tissue or your hand to cough or sneeze
To avoid developing an allergic reaction, avoid direct contact with your known allergens (the substances you know cause you to have adverse reactions). Some common allergens are:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
You should always consult with your doctor before you start a course of any non-prescription medication. This is to prevent drug interaction with any prescription medication you may already be taking.
Some home remedies may help relieve symptoms of both, a common cold and an allergic reaction. They are:
- Pain relievers or anti-inflammatories – help ease your aches, pains or fever
- Decongestants – reduce the swelling of the mucus membrane within the nasal passages
- Antihistamines – block the effect of histamines
- Fluids – Drink lots of liquids like water and juice
- Saltwater gargles and throat lozenges – Relieve your sore throat
- Rest – Adequate sleep and rest from physical exertion
Common cold and allergy symptoms are, by themselves, not very serious conditions. However, if their symptoms are not monitored, it can lead to further complications like asthma, ear infections or sinus infections. Call us today if you are suffering from an allergy sore throat due to persistent allergies. Our allergy specialist can help you evaluate your condition and arrive at a solution to your problem.
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