In Allergy, Blog

Cold or Allergies? How Do You Know?

If you’re sniffling and sneezing and are wondering if this is another bad allergy season or a pesky cold, you’re not alone. Determining the cause of these frustrating symptoms is hard for all of us! A lot of times there is a significant overlap between symptoms, leaving us scratching our heads and playing guessing games about which medications we should take. 

Similar Symptoms

Both a cold and allergies can cause a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and fatigue.  All of these symptoms overlap between these two groups.

Is is a pollen allergy or a cold?

How does an allergist determine whether the symptoms their patients are experiencing are caused by one or the other? They start by discussing the symptoms and try to find some that are unique to both.

Common Cold Symptoms

Something that’s unique to the cold is a fever. Patients won’t always have a fever but typically when a fever is involved, it’s more likely a cold is the cause.

Experiencing a lot of aches and pains and weakness usually means a cold is present. It’s not unusual to feel tired with allergies but in general, severe body aches are most likely related to a cold.

Lastly, finding yellow or greenish discharge in your tissue after blowing your nose means that’s it’s more likely an infection versus being allergies.

Common Allergy Symptoms

 Allergy sufferers may also get a stuffy nose, itchy, red eyes, but usually won’t experience the watery eyes that come with a cold.

If you try over-the-counter antihistamines or over-the-counter nasal sprays and feel better immediately, chances are we’re leaning more towards the allergies.

Still Confused?

Determining if symptoms are brought on by a cold or allergies can be tough and confusing. If you’re still confused and frustrated, see your primary care doctor or allergist. 

And if you’re concerned about allergens in your home making your allergy symptoms worse, you may want to consider testing your home for allergens with Exhale’s in-home allergen testing kit. We’ll make it easy to get to the bottom of what’s making you feel sick.

Priya Bansal

Dr. Priya Bansal attended a six-year BS/MD program with Penn State University and Thomas Jefferson Medical School. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Illinois in Chicago and was board certified in both specialties. She then became board certified in Allergy and Immunology after her fellowship at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Bansal served as President for the Illinois Society of Allergy and is currently a RSLAAIS governor for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). Dr. Bansal joined the Exhale team to continue her mission of aiding in the alleviation of suffering for children and adults with allergies and asthma. “As a doctor and as the mom of children with asthma, allergies and food allergies, I could not be more excited about the incredible difference we are making in the lives of our clients,” Dr. Bansal explains.
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