Common Medical Conditions

Is Common Cold a Disease or an Allergy?

Written by
Dr. Ruchika Singh
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published on May 20, 2019   -  1 min read



Is common cold a disease or an allergy? This article is regarding what common cold actually is and how you can relate and differentiate it from allergy. It also includes treatment modalities different from allergy.

Is Common Cold a Disease or an Allergy?

What Is Common Cold?

The common cold is a subtype of rhinitis (irritation or inflammation of nasal mucous membrane or nose) categorized as infectious rhinitis. As the name suggests, it is an infection and not an allergic reaction.

What Are the Causes of Common Cold?

More than hundreds of viruses are implicated in causing common cold but the most common are rhinovirus. It generally spreads through air during close contact with an infected person and by touching infected objects.

What Are the Risk Factors?

It is an airborne viral disease that can be caused in any situation, but few activities which seldom lead to the common cold are:

  • Daycare handling - taking care of a group of children.
  • Improper sleep - irregular and deficit sleep can cause this disease.
  • Psychological stress.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Similar symptoms of allergic rhinitis and common cold are:

  • Running nose.
  • Sneezing.
  • Watery eyes.

The other symptoms of common cold are:

  • Fever.
  • Coughing.
  • Sore throat.
  • Translucent fluid discharge (transparent in case of an allergy).

In allergy, the symptoms appear rapidly just after getting in contact with the allergen, while in common cold, it takes a day or two.

What Are the Precautions to Be Taken?

  1. Washing hands after touching an object or after coming back home and before meals.
  2. Maintaining hygeine.
  3. Use of face mask as they prevent direct inhalation of infectants.

What Are the Treatment Options?

Most of the time, people misunderstand common cold with allergy, and they take anti-histamine drugs which provide few symptomatic relief but do not cure the infection. Treatment of common cold includes symptomatic therapy (removal of symptoms) like:

  1. Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) for fever.
  2. Antitussives for cough.

There are no specific medicines available to treat cold, and it cannot be treated with antibiotics also.

Last reviewed at:
20 May 2019  -  1 min read




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