Is it a Cold or Allergies?

by Amy Roper
(last updated August 23, 2013)


If you find yourself going through boxes of tissues all of a sudden, you may be unsure about whether to treat your symptoms with cold or allergy medicine. While colds and allergies share many of the same common symptoms, and while many medications for both are interchangeable, it can be helpful to know for yourself which is which so you can best treat your condition, as well as keep from spreading germs to someone else if it really is a cold.

Whether it's that first sneeze or tickle in your throat, the symptoms begin. You will want to start by paying close attention to each of your symptoms. Some of the common symptoms that are shared by both allergies and colds such as fatigue, congestion, sore throat, and headache are very similar between a cold and allergies, but other symptoms are important to note:

  • Coughing. Coughing is much less likely to occur with allergies (unless you have asthma which can start by coughing). If you have a consistent cough, particularly if it's deep or if you cough up any mucus, it is more likely to be a cold.
  • Itchy eyes. Itchy eyes are commonly associated with allergies and almost never with a cold.
  • Blowing your nose. When you blow your nose, don't be so quick to throw out the tissue without first taking a look. If the mucus is clear, it is more likely to be allergies, while if it is any shade of yellow or green, it is likely to be a viral infection like a cold.
  • Timing. How long have you been experiencing the symptoms? If you have had them for ten days or less, it is likely you have a cold. If symptoms persist beyond this, it might be allergies, particularly seasonal. Many people experience allergy flare ups at the beginning of seasons, especially fall and spring, so you might consider the time of year as well. It is important to realize that children can suffer from allergies any time of the year.

If you'd like a more definitive answer, you can always see a doctor. They may give you a traditional scratch allergy test or blood test, or they may just ask about your symptoms; so either way, it's a good idea to keep track of those symptoms. Understanding can go a long way towards treatment.

Author Bio

Amy Roper


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What is 4 + 8?

2013-09-01 04:44:50

ashok kandu

i have allergy from cold or something like that.. I have sneezing in s.the cold days of winter.