So, you have a sore throat, cough, runny nose and congestion. Have you caught a common cold or do you have allergy symptoms? Sometimes, it is even difficult for doctors to distinguish between the two, because their symptoms can be so similar. If you have a persistent throat discomfort accompanied by other allergy symptoms, consider an allergy sore throat.
Causes and Concerns
One of hundreds of different kinds of cold-causing viruses can enter your body. As a defense mechanism, your immune system will attack these pathogens. The result of this response is classic cold symptoms, including sore throat, cough, fever and nasal congestion. Allergies occur when you have an overactive immune system. For unknown reasons, the body confuses harmless substances (allergens) like airborne dust and pollens for germs and infiltrates them.
When you have allergies, your body releases chemicals (called histamines), and they fight the allergen in the same manner as when you battle a cold bug. You can develop swollen nasal passages, runny nose, sneezing, cough and a sore throat. Unlike the common cold, allergies are not contagious.
Symptoms and Signs
While there are some differences, cold and allergy symptoms can also overlap. For example, you will sometimes feel achy or feverish with a cold but never with allergies. You will often get a sore throat as the first symptom of a cold. However, you will only sometimes develop a sore throat as part of an allergic reaction. This is called allergy sore throat, and it results when persistent drainage irritates the back of the oral cavity.
The main difference between a cold and allergies is that a cold normally last for two weeks at the most, while allergies will typically be more long-lasting. If you have cold-like symptoms after fourteen days, you should consult an allergy specialist. Your symptoms could be caused by allergies, or they could be potential warning signs of a more serious problem such as asthma. Common symptoms and signs of allergies that accompany allergy sore throat include:
- Persistent sore throat
- Pain with swallowing
- Dry throat
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Coughing and wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
Solutions and Options
Even though allergy and cold symptoms are very often similar, their causes are not. Therefore different tactics are needed to prevent colds and allergies. In order to avoid the nasty symptoms of a cold, try not to let any of the many common cold viruses enter your body. Stay as far away as you can from anyone who exhibits signs and symptoms of a cold. Wash your hands frequently. To prevent spreading your cold, always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Also, use either a tissue or your sleeve instead of your hands.
In order to lessen the chances of developing allergic reactions, including an allergic sore throat or cough, avoid direct contact with your known allergens (like substances you know cause your adverse reactions). Common allergens include:
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
Always talk to your doctor before taking any medications you can buy in a drugstore without a prescription. This is especially important if you take prescription medications to prevent possible drug interactions. While there is no known cure for either common colds or allergies, there are ways to ease your symptoms. To treat both cold and allergy symptoms, try some of these home remedies:
- Antihistamines - Block the effect of histamines
- Decongestants – Reduce mucus membrane swelling within the nasal passages
- Anti-inflammatories or pain relievers – Ease your aches, pains or fever
- Rest – Adequate sleep and rest from physical exertion
- Fluids – Drink lots of liquids like orange juice and water
- Salt water gargles and throat lozenges – Relieve your sore throat
While cold and allergy symptoms are rarely serious on their own, they can lead to other conditions like asthma, ear infections, and sinus infections. If you think you have an allergy sore throat from persistent allergies, consult one of our caring allergy specialists. The doctor can help you find a solution to your symptoms.