Whether it is experienced in summer or winter, the common cold shares some characteristics with seasonal allergies. Both are associated with stuffiness in the sinuses, a runny nose, some sneezing, and a general sense of malaise. But they also have significant differences.
The common cold is caused by any one of hundreds of different viruses that attack the upper respiratory system. Most of us get colds in the cool, damp winter months, but colds can strike in summer too.
Allergies are entirely different. They can sometimes mimic the effects of a cold, and they can strike in winter. But they are far more common in spring, summer, and fall. That is because most allergies are seasonal in nature. They are manifestations of the body’s allergic reaction to plant pollens released during the growing season and inhaled into the nasal passages. Some people are allergic to things like pet dander or house dust: These may be encountered in the environment year-round.
The fundamental difference between colds and allergies is that the former results from the body’s immune system combatting a disease-causing virus. Allergies, on the other hand, result when the immune system incorrectly identifies an otherwise harmless protein — in the form of pollen, for example — and attacks it. The fallout from that unnecessary attack is what we experience as allergy symptoms.
How Is a Summer Allergy Different than a Cold?
Allergies typically cause a clear nasal discharge, accompanied by an itchy sensation in the sinuses, ears, eyes, or throat. Sneezing is not uncommon, nor is a feeling of stuffiness in the head. Eyes may become red and irritated and may water.
The common cold may provoke certain symptoms that are not shared by allergies, such as sore throat, fever, or body aches. Colds typically run their course within seven to 10 days. The symptoms of allergies, however, may persist for weeks, depending on what you are allergic to, and what happens to be pollinating.
The onset of allergies can typically be linked to exposure to a particular allergen. Visiting a home with cats, for example, might provoke allergy symptoms temporarily within a person who happens to be allergic to cat dander. The symptoms will typically subside within a day or two once the person has removed him or herself from the presence of cats and their dander.
What Is a Summer Cold?
A summer cold is simply a common cold that strikes in the summer, rather than the winter months. Since they are caused by viruses, colds cannot be treated with antibiotics. Certain over-the-counter medications may help alleviate symptoms, however. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the above symptoms, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is open 7 days/week with extended hours to help. Our experienced team will assess the symptoms and recommend the best treatment options, whether you’re suffering from seasonal allergies or a summer cold. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!