An allergy or a cold – which is it and how do I tell?

How do we tell if our symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing or fatigue is a cold or an allergy? 

Some people experience symptoms on/off throughout the entire year (definitely leaning more towards an allergy here) but as the seasons change and the temperatures fluctuate, it’s common to experience cold-like symptoms and it can be really hard to differentiate between the two. It’s helpful to know because treatment varies depending on the cause.

As we know allergies occur when our immune system reacts to foreign substances such as grass, dust, animals or some foods. If you have allergies and come into contact with the allergen, your immune system identifies it as a ‘threat’ and then produces antibodies and inflammatory markers (such as histamine) to cause your allergy symptoms. That might sound like our body does it intentionally – it does! Your brain interprets this thing as being dangerous (for you) and is trying to keep you away from it, but then we are left with annoying and often debilitating symptoms that really are of no use to us at all. (You can read here how NAET works to support your body during this improper brain response). I will say that where this is useful though is when the allergy is severe like in anaphylactic reactions and we really do want to avoid this thing.

So how do we know? While there are overlaps in symptoms of both there are a few things that lean more towards it being an allergy:

  • itchy eyes, nose or throat
  • no sore throat
  • lasts longer than a typical cold duration, 3-7/10 days
  • symptoms may vary a bit depending on the trigger ie dust (all year round) or pollens which are seasonal
  • same time roughly every year
  • sudden onset and often when around the trigger ie grass or a cat

So what do we do?

In both situations we want to support both the immune system and the inflammatory response.

Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine and helpful for both allergies and colds so you can’t go too wrong here – give it a try. I always recommend getting to the bottom of your symptoms so rarely do I suggest an antihistamine long-term but you could try one and see what it does. If things improve for 12-24 hours after taking one but then come back it’s likely an allergy.

Regardless of the cause and in both situations we want to support the immune system and your symptoms ie too much mucous. So you can do – minerals with extra zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C – these are the basics that you can get started with. We then want to treat the individual with what they specifically need ie horseraddish herb to help dry up mucous along with immune modulating (for an allergy) or immune stimulating (for a cold) herbs. 

However ideally we want to do what we can to identify the trigger and really support the body (including that improper brain response) to prevent further attacks! So moving forward think about aiming to resolve rather than just treat the symptoms.

Get in touch here if you have any questions about how NAET and herbal medicine can help you, or book a free 15 minute consultation to discuss if this is the right approach for you. You can book here for initial or follow up consultations.

I look forward to helping you soon x