With springtime comes allergy season, but you can get a cold at any time of year. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which you have. The common cold and seasonal allergies have similar symptoms, but there are ways to tell them apart.
Allergies vs. Colds
Sneezing, runny nose, cough, fatigue, and headaches are common symptoms of both a cold and allergies. There are five key differences between the symptoms of a cold and those of allergies.
1. Color of Nasal Discharge
With a cold, your nasal discharge will have a yellowish or greenish color. This tells you that your body is trying to fight off an infection. With allergies, your nasal discharge will usually be clear.
2. Sore vs. Itchy Throat
A sore, painful throat is a symptom of a cold. If your throat is dry and scratchy, it is more likely to be allergies.
3. Itchy Eyes and Nose
Itchy eyes, nose, and throat are symptoms of allergies. It is unlikely to experience these with a cold. Children with allergies will often have watery eyes and rub their noses in an upward motion to relieve the itchiness.
4. Presence of a Fever
A fever is your body’s way of fighting off an illness by making your body temperature higher and less suitable for bacteria and viruses. Your body will only develop a fever if you have an illness, including a cold. Hay fever does not actually cause a fever.
5. Timing and Duration
Did your symptoms come on all at once, particularly when you were likely exposed to pollen, dust, or other allergen? If your symptoms occurred when pollen counts were high, you most likely have allergies. Did your symptoms worsen over time? You may have a cold. Allergies will last as long as you are exposed to an allergen, but a cold will only last between 3 and 14 days.
Our board-certified physicians at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group Sugar Land and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group The Vintage can treat you for an acute cold or seasonal allergies. Schedule an appointment online today. You can use this helpful chart to get an idea about what condition you may have.