How to tell the difference between allergies and the common cold - WSMV News 4

How to tell the difference between allergies and the common cold

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It probably comes as no surprise, but Tennessee ranks second in the nation for pollen count.

There has certainly been a lot of sneezing, coughing, and overall feelings of misery taking place across the Midstate. So, is it allergies? Or is it the common cold?

The two have very similar symptoms. During the spring, it can be difficult to figure out what you have.

Dr. Phay Chothmounethinh, who is a primary care physician at Saint Thomas Health, says there are three key differences.

First, a common cold is more likely to include a fever, muscle aches, headaches and a sore throat.

Second, allergies are more likely to cause itchy, watery eyes combined with a runny nose and congestion

The length of time you're experiencing the symptoms can also be telling.

“Colds will last three to 10 days in most people, up to two weeks,” Chothmounethinh said. “But allergies can last for weeks as long as the allergen is still in the air.”

He says fatigue is more often associated with the common cold.

Karmen Calloway says, she can "sense" the pollen in the air.

“I can kind of taste it today,” she said.

When asked what pollen tastes like, Calloway replied, "Dirt!"

"A cold is where I feel sick. Allergies, I sneeze all the time," she said.

Laurie Coffey knows when she has a cold.

“A cold makes me feel sort of rundown, all over. Whereas if I stay on my allergy medication, that really helps,” said Coffey.

Because the treatments for allergies and a cold are different, if there is any doubt, contact your doctor.

“If you had the same symptoms this time of year, last year, that generally points more toward an allergy problem,” Chothmounethinh said.

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