Henrico County Employee Health: Cold vs Allergies

by Theresa Aliemeke-Schwickerath, AG-ACNP BC, Employee Health Services Division, Department of Human Resources

With flu season coming to an end, many are looking forward to warmer weather and less sick days. But we are often surprised when cold symptoms appear during the spring and summer months. The

all-too-familiar symptoms of cough, congestion, runny nose, and sore throat often threaten to ruin our summer plans. So how do you know when you are sick or when you have allergies? A cold is caused by a virus and may involve symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and green or yellow mucus. If you believe that you have a cold, you may choose to seek medical care or consultation. Treatment options will vary based on severity, but symptoms will typically resolve within 7-10 days. It is important to remember that if you are feeling unwell and have a fever, you should stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others around you. If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, you may also speak with a healthcare provider to discuss individualized treatment options. This may include over-the-counter medications for allergy relief such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra. Avoiding common allergens altogether might also be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms. For example, wearing a mask while cutting grass may lessen the symptoms for someone who experiences outdoor seasonal allergies. Whether it is allergies or the common cold, Henrico County Employee Health Services are here to support you! We offer same day appointments for colds and seasonal allergies. Give us a call at 804-501-1600 to make an appointment or to speak with a qualified medical professional today.

Cold vs. Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, can mimic cold symptoms but there are ways to tell them apart. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before heading to your medical provider or employee healthcare clinic.

  1. When did my symptoms begin? Allergy symptoms have an abrupt onset, while cold symptoms develop gradually over a few days.
  2. How long have I been feeling this way? If symptoms have persisted longer than ten days, then it might be allergies.
  3. What symptoms am I experiencing? Itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose are likely allergies, while aches, pains, and FEVER suggest a cold.