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A Cold or An Allergy?

Posted Jan 08 2010 2:44pm
I was in Florida for more than a week, around people from all over the world, and when during the last few days I noticed that I was sneezing and my nose was running, I was not sure if I had caught a cold or if I was having an immune system reaction to something (in the air or in my food). I didn't have aches. I didn't have that foggy head syndrome I usually associate with colds. I didn't have a sore throat. However, I was blowing my nose constantly on Tuesday, sneezing, and I've had a bit of a cough off and on since then, more of an annoyance than any real discomfort though.

I decided to revisit the scientific differences between colds and allergies, and according to the WebMD article on " Common Cold or Allergies ?" my symptoms are more likely to be caused by an allergy than a cold. Here's a reprint of the chart in the WebMD article
Characteristic
Cold
Allergy
Duration
3-14 days
Days to months -- as long as you are exposed to the allergen
Time of Year
Most often in the winter, but possible at any time
Any time of the year -- although the appearance of some allergens are seasonal
Onset of symptoms
Symptoms take a few days to appear after infection with the virus.
Symptoms can begin immediately after exposure to the allergen
Symptom
Cold
Allergy
Cough
Often
Sometimes
Aches
Sometimes
Never
Fatigue
Sometimes
Sometimes
Fever
Rarely
Never
Itchy, watery eyes
Rarely
Often
Sore throat
Often
Sometimes
Runny or stuffy nose
Often; usually yellow mucus
Often; usually clear mucus



I was eating out a lot in Florida, and I wasn't entirely careful about avoiding wheat and dairy (thinking I was oh-so-healthy now and could "cheat" and have what everyone else was having). My scalp was a bit itchy and that typically signifies dairy in my diet versus an infection.

So back to avoiding appetizers like fried calamari. Back to pretending crème brûlée doesn't exist. Back to being "good" in order to feel better!

Anyway, if you feel like you have a "mild cold" and it lingers longer than a couple of weeks, you might want to do some detective work on potential allergies

Drop a line below if you have a personal experience to share!
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