Allergies, Cold, or Infection?

Difference Between Common Cold, Allergies, and Sinusitis

It’s sometimes a tough call, but how long your problems last is one of the big clues.

They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system, the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. It’s this response that brings on the classic symptoms like a cough or stuffed up nose. The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a week or so, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.

Allergies on the other hand, are caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body has a reaction to otherwise harmless things such as dust, pet dander, or pollen. When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start sneezing and coughing.


Sinusitis, which is an infection of the sinus passages which may require antibiotic treatment, can occur as a consequence of both colds and allergies. Wheezing, shortness of breath, and other asthma symptoms can also occur as a result of cold and allergies. If your symptoms last longer than 14 days, consider consulting your doctor especially if you are having breathing problems. Continue reading “Allergies, Cold, or Infection?”