The Difference Between a Cold and Allergies and How to Treat Both

Jose Topacio

Woman having a cold

Because they’re both common afflictions and share plenty of symptoms, an allergy and a cold often get confused for one or the other. Fortunately, both are treatable at home. In fact, you can easily buy over-the-counter medicines from an online drugstore. However, you first have to know the difference between the two conditions so you know what kind of treatment you need.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you identify and treat either or both an allergy and a cold:

What Is an Allergy?

An allergy is a condition in which the immune system overreacts to fight or get rid of something that isn’t really bad for the body. For example, pollen from plants and flowers isn’t really harmful. However, if you’re allergic to it, your immune system interprets pollen as an invader and releases histamine to protect the body.

Histamine is an organic compound produced mostly by white blood cells, particularly basophils and mast cells. It’s necessary for various physiological processes but, unfortunately, also causes plenty of symptoms associated with allergies like itching and sneezing.

What Is a Cold?

A cold is a contagious respiratory illness caused by more than 200 types of viruses. Most people will have about 2 to 3 colds per year; children may experience even more. Usually, you can get a cold by inhaling droplets in the air or by touching surfaces with viral droplets and then bringing your hand to your face, nose, or mouth. The latter is why one of the best ways to avoid a cold is to regularly wash your hands.

Some symptoms of a cold that are very much similar to an allergy include a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing.

What Is the Difference Between These Two Conditions?

One of the biggest differences between an allergy and a cold is that only one is contagious. An allergy is an immune response; it can be inherited from a parent, but it’s also possible for a child to develop an allergy even if their parent doesn’t. Meanwhile, because a cold is caused by a virus, it can be easily passed on to another person.

There are also a lot of differences when it comes to symptoms. For example, if your eyes are itchy and watery, you likely have an allergy and not a cold. On the other hand, a fever can sometimes accompany a cold but never an allergy (unless you also have an infection along with your allergy).

Additionally, if you have a sore throat and body aches, you most likely have a cold and not an allergy. You may also notice that the cooler months also bring about more cases of colds. This is because the viruses that cause colds linger in the air longer, so more people end up catching them. Meanwhile, allergies can happen at any time. As long as there’s a presence of an allergen, like pollen, pet dander, or mold, an allergy attack will usually follow.

Finally, a cold usually lasts for about 10 to 14 days while an allergy can disappear in just a few hours. As soon as the allergen is removed and the proper treatment is applied, allergy symptoms will fade. Do note that if your cold lasts for more than 14 days, it’s highly recommended to consult a doctor. It may not just be a cold you have, but rather another kind of infection. It’s also possible that you may develop complications due to a prolonged cold.

How Do You Treat an Allergy?

Treating an allergy requires two main actions: removing the allergens and addressing the symptoms. Common environmental allergens include dust, dust mites, pollen, animal dander, and mold.

To minimize exposure to environmental allergens, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect the objects and areas that you or any person with allergies stay in most frequently. Careful attention must be given to beddings, as these can harbor hundreds or even thousands of dust mites.

For those with food allergies, it’s better to eat meals that you prepared yourself. If you want to eat out, it’s helpful to have an allergy card with you; consider calling ahead, too, so that the staff is aware of your allergies and make accommodations.

Of course, you should always be prepared with your allergy medicine. There are a variety of antihistamines available, but your doctor may have a recommendation that’s most suited for your condition. For those with food allergies or with severe allergies, always keep your injectables with you wherever you go.

How Do You Treat a Cold?

The key thing to remember about a cold is that it’s viral. Thus, you cannot and should not treat it with antibiotics. What you can do is take medicine to manage the symptoms you have. If you have a blocked nose, take a decongestant. If you’re experiencing headaches, take a pain reliever. In the meantime, make sure to eat right and get some rest. The cold should go away in about a week or so, faster if your immune system is healthy.

It can be difficult to treat a condition if you don’t fully understand it. If you’re ever confused about an allergy and a cold, use this as a reference so you can address your condition accordingly.

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7 Things You Should Always Buy from Drugstores | Southstar Drug

Jessa Garcia

Disclaimer: This article features medical and health topics for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace or serve as medical or professional advice for self-diagnosis, self-treatment, self-medication, or the like for any health-related condition or medical emergency. Make sure to consult a health care or medical professional for proper medical care, diagnosis, or treatment related to your situation. 

Pharmacist picking medicine

Read on to know which vital items you should consider buying from a drugstore.

When you think about or search for “online drugstore Philippines,” you’re most likely planning to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. It’s practically automatic because, after all, a drugstore’s primary function is to sell pharmaceutical products.

However, most drugstores in the country nowadays have more than just medicines on their shelves and in their refrigerators. From snacks and beverages to a range of home essentials, you can find plenty of affordable products from your trusted drugstore (online or otherwise).

Here are some examples of products that you should put in your cart the next time you’re shopping at a drugstore:

Health Supplements

If you take health supplements and vitamins, the best source for them is a drugstore. Aside from a wider variety of products than you can find in supermarkets, drugstores also have proper storage facilities to maintain the potency of these products.

In addition, pharmacists can give you recommendations if you have specific health goals or concerns. It’s not absolutely necessary, of course, and supplements are usually OTC anyway. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that you have this option should you want or need it.

Medical Supplies

It’s always good to have a well-stocked first aid kit at home. Some of the essentials include adhesive bandages, gauze, medical tape, antiseptic, antibiotic cream, burn ointment, sterile gloves, small scissors, tweezers, and some cotton balls or swabs. For OTC medications, your first aid kit should contain painkillers, antihistamines, as well as those for immediate cough and cold relief. To be extra prepared, consider adding medicines for hyperacidity and loose bowel movement.

The good news? All of these can be found at affordable prices in drugstores! Aside from these products, most drugstores also sell medical aids and basic equipment. These include glucometers and digital blood pressure monitors.

Baby Diapers

One of the biggest expenses of new parents, particularly those with newborns, is diapers. The usual recommendation is about once every 3 hours, although the best rule to follow is “as often as needed.” This is because babies may urinate every hour or so, and have up to five bowel movements in a day. In short, you can go through a big pack of diapers in just 1 week.

Thankfully, drugstores sell different brands and sizes of diapers; just pick the product that’s “hiyang” for your baby. If you want to save a bit more money, check if the drugstore has generic or store-brand diapers.

Formula Milk and Adult Nutrition Powders

Another big expense for parents is formula milk. For newborns, you can expect to be feeding them up to 12 times every 24 hours. As they grow older, they will start needing fewer but bigger amounts of milk. To save money, buy formula milk from drugstores. Not only is it much cheaper, but you may also find variants or special formulations that are more suitable for your baby’s needs.

You can also buy adult formula and nutrition powders from drugstores. As with food supplements, pharmacists can provide advice and recommendations to help you or your loved ones achieve health goals.

Paper Products and Cotton Products

Aside from baby diapers, you may also want to purchase your daily paper products like bathroom tissues, paper towels, and table napkins from drugstores. You’ll enjoy lower prices, which is definitely good for your wallet because these are often-used products that run out quickly.

In addition, drugstores also sell cotton products like rolls, balls, and swabs at the same or lower price than supermarkets.

Hygiene Products

One of the best places to buy hygiene products is your favorite drugstore, due to coupons and other forms of discounts. Some of the items you might want to stock up on include deodorant, razors, and regular bath soap.

There are also plenty of affordable dental products that you can buy in drugstores, particularly toothbrushes. Remember, you don’t need expensive toothbrushes with special bristles. As long as you’re using proper strokes, brushing for at least 2 minutes, and brushing your tongue as well, you’re good! Follow it up with dental floss for complete dental care.

Basic Cosmetics

For your basic cosmetic needs, such as lip balm, eyeshadow, or even compact powder, you may be surprised to find a decent selection at drugstores. Plus, like many other items in this list, the cosmetics you’ll find at drugstores are much cheaper than those you’ll find at specialty stores.


Gone were the days when drugstores only sold medicines. When you take a look at their array of products, they often rival or sometimes exceed those found in convenience stores.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a drugstore can completely replace a grocery or supermarket. However, it’s also true that some products are cheaper in a drugstore; there are also certain item categories that you can’t find in other stores at all.

The key here is to determine which products are worth buying in different kinds of shops. This way, you can better manage your time and money.

To ensure you buy trusted health essentials such as over-the-counter medicines or vitamins and supplements, you may purchase online at Southstar Drug. Take advantage of our FREE delivery service if you purchase a total of Php 1,499 and up for Metro Manila, Rizal, and select areas in Pampanga, Cavite, and Batangas. For the remaining provinces, you may enjoy FREE delivery service for purchases worth Php 5,000 and up.

Happy shopping!

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