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Is It A Cold Or Is It An Allergy? By #AllergyFree- A Sanofi India Initiative

Is it a cold or is it an allergy? By #AllergyFree- A Sanofi India initiative
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You sneeze for the first time that day. What’s the first thing to cross your mind? Is it just an irritation? Or the onset of a cold? And then, the sneezes continue. For much longer than it’s expected. Is it still a cold or something else? What if it’s an allergy? If asked, can you differentiate between a cold and an allergy? It’s a question that puzzles many but only a few can answer.  Although the duration of symptoms can be a huge giveaway, there are also multiple factors that can help you differentiate between the two.

So, what defines cold and allergy?

Firstly, the causes of either are totally different. A person gets cold when a virus enters the body. Different viruses can lead to different things and there are hundreds of them out there.

The body’s immune system reacts in the same way for every unknown virus that gets inside, it launches a counter-attack. And it’s the response that gives you symptoms like a cough or stuffed up nose. Colds are highly contagious. One can get a cold, when someone infected comes in contact with you or sneezes, coughs around you. Only lasting a couple of weeks your body should and would fight off the virus, eliminating any symptoms beyond that point

But allergies are different, they are the result of an overactive immune system. In other words, they occur when your immune system considers a harmless material as harmful such as dust, pollen, mold, etc. As soon as an allergen enters your body, the immune system releases certain chemicals to fight it off, just as during a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose that leads to sneezing and coughing.

What’s the difference between cold and allergy?

Although some of the cold allergy symptoms match with each other, there’s no way they should be considered the same. While a cold can only cause mild discomfort lasting a couple of days, an allergy can be much severe. Here’s how you can differentiate between them:


Nasal Allergies



Symptoms are experienced together: Sneezing & itchy eyes.

Clear nasal discharge that turns into yellow or green. Sometimes I have a fever.


Only until the individual is exposed to the allergen and a few hours after it.

Lasts only a week or two.


Rapid & multiple times in sequence.

Not as frequent.


Summer, Monsoon, Spring.

Most common during winter.

Nasal discharge

Thin, watery or clear.

The thick residue is usually yellow or green.




Cold and allergy management

While cold can be prevented through personal hygiene and avoiding contact with those infected. It’s best to drink a lot of fluid until the symptoms subside if you do get infected. If it’s the flu, it’s advisable to take proper medication to treat it in a better way. 

However, an allergy can be prevented by avoiding triggers when possible or ensuring the environment around you is hygienic. Allergy treatment doesn’t exist, but it can be managed with certain steps. Determining the allergy types via allergy testing is essential as it helps to manage them better. Understanding the difference between cold and allergy can be confusing, but if your symptoms last for more than two weeks, it’s recommended you seek proper medical attention to determine the allergy.

For more information on how you can identify and manage allergies, visit


About the author

Isha Kukde

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