OCT 25, 2017 3:48 PM PDT

Cold, Flu, or Allergy?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Gesundheit! You've got the sniffles and the sneezes, but are they symptoms of a cold or an allergy? It can be hard to tell since the usual symptoms, such as congestion and coughing, are common to both types of ailments.

One way to discern the difference is to pay attention to symptoms that are unique to either a cold or allergies. For example, fevers and body aches are not associated with allergies, so if you experience these symptoms, it's likely that you're battling a cold. Similarly, rashes and itchy eyes are less common symptoms of a cold, and point to allergies.

Another way to differentiate between a cold and allergies is to look around you. Are the people around you also have similar symptoms? If so, a cold could be more likely, since the virus can be easily transmitted through the air. If your symptoms happen to coincide with seasonal changes, you may have a case of seasonal allergies, and may have to endure it until the allergen is gone.

Whether it's a cold or allergies, if you're not feeling well for an extended period of time, it's best to book an appointment with your doctor.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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