Cold vs. Allergies

A sign reads: allergy season ahead
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In Texas, it’s unavoidable, a runny nose, a scratchy throat, even a sneeze or two. As these symptoms pop up around us and even in our own homes, how do we tell the difference between a cold and allergies? Integrity Urgent Care has a few tips for the differences between these two common ailments and a few solutions to help you make a plan for getting well, sooner.

What is a cold?

A cold is caused by a virus and leads to several different symptoms. Some of the most common are a runny nose, fatigue, and sometimes a sore throat and less frequently, a fever. A cold will usually run its course in about two weeks. That being said, a cold can contribute to a larger issue like pneumonia or bronchitis in some patients. A patient can “catch” a cold at anytime of year and the CDC speculates that the average adult has two to three colds each year. 

What are allergies?

If you are impacted by allergies, you aren’t alone. An article by states allergies impact over 50 million people across the United States. Allergies, or even seasonal sensitivities that aren’t full blown allergies, can be a reaction to pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, or a number of other environmental factors. Food allergies can also cause some of the more seasonal allergy symptoms discussed here. Symptoms are frequently a runny nose, fatigue, a sore throat, and itchy or watery eyes. Allergies often last up to six weeks and appear at the same time each year as seasons change. 

How can I tell the difference?

Two of the symptoms differ, with a cold sometimes triggering a fever and allergies frequently having an impact on the patient’s eyes. Additionally, allergies last longer than a cold takes to run its course. According to, “People with allergies may be more prone to catching colds.” So some patients may experience longer with these symptoms because they are actually dealing with both at different times. 

How do I treat both?

We firmly believe in consistent rest and drinking plenty of fluids for any condition and, quite frankly, when dealing with everyday life. Which is a great place to start. A cold cannot be treated or prevented, other than avoiding carriers as much as possible, but the symptoms can be relieved with a cough medicine or with a small dose of a pain reliever if needed. Avoiding caffeine, drinking herbal tea, and using a cool mist humidifier can help as well. For allergies, an antihistamine can help some patients, but other patients see no impact or change at all. Those with more severe symptoms may consider seeing a specialist to treat their allergies. 

If you are having symptoms lingering longer than what is listed here or feel the need to seek additional medical help, please come see us at one of our several locations. Our clinics are open from 8am to 8pm, everyday of the week, and we are ready to serve you and your family, getting you back to your lives. 

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