It’s a question that puzzles a lot of people when familiar symptoms start to surface: Is all that coughing and sneezing from a cold or allergies? It’s sometimes a tough call, but how long your problems last is one of the big clues.
What are Colds and Allergies?
They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living things called a virus gets into your body. There are hundreds of different types that can get you sick.
The virus itself does not cause the classic symptoms such as coughing and a stuffed nose. That is actually your bodies immune system launching a counter-attack against the virus.
Viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can contract them when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs or comes in contact with you. After a couple of weeks, a the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.
Allergies are a different story. They are caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason your body mistakes harmless things, like dust or pollen, for germs and attacks them.
When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when you are battling a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start sneezing and coughing.
Unlike colds, allergies aren’t contagious, though some people may inherit a tendency to get them.
Differences Between Colds and Allergies
Take a look at your symptoms and how long they last to help you figure out what is causing your trouble
The most important differences is that colds usually don’t last longer than 14 days. So see your doctor if you still have symptoms after 2 weeks. These may be allergies or signs of another problem.