ETH Meditec, im Kontext des Blogbeitrags 'Schnupfen: Ist es eine Erkรคltung oder eine Allergie?' - lebendiges Symbolbild fรผr Allergene in der Natur."

Runny nose: is it a cold or an allergy?

When your nose runs and you constantly have to reach for a tissue, the question often arises:

Is my runny nose a cold or an allergy? Although both conditions can have similar symptoms, they are fundamentally different body reactions and must be treated differently. In this blog post we'll get to the bottom of the causes of a runny nose and show you how you can tell whether it's a cold or an allergy.

A cold - Typical symptoms and causes

A cold, also known as a flu-like infection, is usually viral and often spreads in the colder months of the year. In addition to a runny nose, typical symptoms include a sore throat, cough, headache and sometimes a slight fever. The common cold occurs when viruses infect the upper respiratory tract and trigger an immune response in the body. Symptoms usually build up slowly and peak after a few days. Treatment is symptomatic with sufficient rest, fluid intake and, if necessary, painkillers or decongestant nasal sprays.

allergy - How it expresses itself and what lies behind it

Unlike a cold, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to normally harmless substances in the environment, called allergens. Common allergens are pollen, house dust mites, animal hair or mold spores. If you have a runny nose, itchy eyes and frequent sneezing without any other cold symptoms such as fever or body aches, it could be allergic rhinitis, often also called hay fever. Allergy symptoms usually appear suddenly after contact with the allergen and can occur seasonally or year-round. Proper diagnosis and treatment - often with antihistamines or specific immunotherapy - is important to achieve relief.

Distinctive features and diagnostic methods

When differentiating between a cold and an allergy, the timing of the symptoms and their duration is a crucial criterion. Colds usually last no longer than one to two weeks, while allergy symptoms often last for longer periods as long as there is contact with the allergen. The quality of the nasal secretion can also be an indication: with a cold it is often yellowish and thicker, and with an allergy it is usually clear and watery. If you suspect an allergy, those affected should consult an allergist who can use skin tests or blood tests to identify the responsible allergens and initiate appropriate therapy.

Prevention and tips

Regardless of everyday life, whether a runny nose is caused by a cold or an allergy, there are measures that can be taken to alleviate the symptoms. A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, sufficient exercise and enough sleep can strengthen the immune system and thus reduce the susceptibility to colds. It is important for allergy sufferers to reduce contact with known allergens as much as possible. Airing your living space regularly, keeping carpets and upholstery clean, and wearing sunglasses during pollen season can be simple but effective measures. Those affected by both colds and allergies can use gentle, decongestant nasal rinses with saline solution to clear the airways and increase well-being.

Recognizing the causes of a cold

is crucial for effective treatment and rapid recovery. While the symptoms of colds and allergies may initially appear similar, details in their severity and some clues from everyday life often allow a distinction to be made. If symptoms persist or recur, you should always consult a doctor to determine the exact cause and take appropriate countermeasures.

If you are unsure whether your cold symptoms are due to an allergy, ETH Meditec offers a simple and convenient way to find out - with our lifestyle self-test. Discover how you can easily determine your own allergy status. Take the first step towards a pain-free everyday life with us! More information can be found here.

Stay healthy with ETH Meditec.

Image of an allergy self-test kit from ETH Meditec to identify the causes of hay fever and other allergies from the comfort of your own home. Various self-test packages from ETH Meditec for a comprehensive health profile, including food reaction and vitamin deficiency tests - visualized on a clear, medical-inspired background.
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