Symptoms of allergies and colds can be similar, but here’s how to tell the difference:
Occurrence of symptoms:
Both allergies and colds cause symptoms of sneezing, congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, fatigue, and headaches. However, colds often cause symptoms one at a time: first sneezing, then a runny nose, and then congestion. Allergies can cause these symptoms all at once and is associated most times with itchiness.
Duration of Symptoms:
Cold symptoms generally last from seven to 10 days, whereas allergy symptoms continue as long as a person is exposed to the allergy-causing agent. Allergy symptoms may subside soon after elimination of allergen exposure.
Colds may cause yellowish nasal discharge, suggesting an infectious cause. Allergies generally cause clear, thin, watery mucus discharge.
Sneezing is a more common allergy symptom, especially when sneezing occurs two or three times in a row.
Time of Year:
Colds are more common during the winter months, whereas allergies are more common in the spring through the fall, when plants are pollinating.
Presence of a Fever:
Colds may be accompanied by a fever, but allergies are not usually associated with a fever.