Cold vs Allergies: Which Do You Have?

Cold weather is finally here! That means it’s time for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, warm sweaters, and.. fall allergies. 


If you’re experiencing a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, or coughing, you may be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies each year. Or, you could have a cold –– and telling the two apart isn’t as simple as it may seem. 


Allergies and colds are two very different diseases. Allergies are an immune system reaction to substances like pet dander and pollen, while the “common cold” is an infection caused by a virus that typically lasts 7 to 10 days. 


Colds are transmitted through virus droplets that a sick person sheds when they cough or sneeze, and, despite its name, you can catch a “cold” at any point in the year — Yes, even in the summer. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average healthy adult catches two or three colds per year.


While seasonal allergies are most common in the springtime, when hay fever and allergies caused by trees are heightened, many Americans experience seasonal allergies during the early fall months, too. Cool autumn air can even harbor irritants that are just as aggravating as pollen (Seriously!). 


So, why do people confuse the two so easily? 


It’s all about your symptoms – and the way you respond to them. Once you learn the difference between allergies and colds, you can find the right method of relieve for your symptoms — fast. 


One major signifier that you struggle with allergies and not a cold? Timing. If your cold-like symptoms develop suddenly and occur for long periods at the same time each year, you likely struggle with seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, people with allergies may be more prone to catching colds. 


Symptoms of the common cold include: 


  • Sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, in addition to coughing and sneezing 
  • For more severe colds: headaches, fevers, and body aches 
  • If symptoms last more than a week or two, the virus may contribute to a more serious infection, such as a sinus infection, pneumonia, or bronchitis 


Allergy and cold similar symptoms: 


    • Sneezing 
    • Coughing 
    • Sore throat 
    • Runny nose 
    • Nasal congestion 
    • Watery eyes 


Telling them apart: 


The symptoms that colds and allergies DON’T share can be more telling than anything. Colds are more likely to cause fatigue, aches and pains, sore throat, and fevers. Allergies are more likely to cause itchy eyes, wheezing, and skin rashes such as eczema or hives. 


When trying to decide what ailment you’re experiencing, consider these three things: 


  1. Time of the year 
  2. Duration of symptoms 
  3. What treatments are helping 


Consult with Dr. Judy if you are unsure about which category your symptoms fall under. 


Natural remedies for seasonal allergies: 


  • Detox your body by eliminating fried foods, sugar, alcohol and other toxins from your diet or try liver supportive foods and herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits, and nuts 
  • Cleanse your nose with a neti pot, sinus irrigator, or nasal oils
  • Try acupuncture to help address underlying imbalances within the body 
  • Take probiotics to help stimulate the production of immune-enhancing substances
  • Add essential oils like peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil to your bath, tea, massage oil, or oil diffuser to help reduce allergy symptoms 


Natural remedies for colds:


  • Stay hydrated with water, juice, or warm lemon water (with honey) to help prevent dehydration and loosen congestion
  • Sip warm liquids such as tea, soup, or warm apple juice to soothe aches and increase mucus flow 
  • Add moisture to the air by using a cool vaporizer or humidifier 
  • Boost your Vitamin C intake to reduce phlegm 
  • Most importantly, rest: your body needs time to heal. 


Dr. Judy uses Standard Process supplements and doTerra essential oils to promote a healthy immune system all year round. If you are suffering from Cold or Allergy symptoms, speak with Dr. Judy at your next adjustment and get the relief you need!