Weekly Clinical Service Dose: How Can I Tell Seasonal Allergies from a Cold?
1. How symptoms develop
Both allergies and colds cause sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, and fatigue. However, colds often cause symptoms one at a time: first sneezing, then a runny nose and nasal congestion. Allergies cause these symptoms all at once.
2. How long symptoms last
Cold symptoms generally last seven to 10 days while seasonal allergy symptoms generally last months at a time. Seasonal allergy symptoms continue if you are exposed to the trigger (Pollen, Dust, etc.). The symptoms will diminish soon after exposure to the trigger ends.
3. The type of mucus discharge
Colds may cause a yellowish nasal discharge, suggesting an infection. Allergies usually cause a clear, thin, watery discharge.
4. How often you sneeze
Sneezing is more common with allergies (especially sneezing two to three times in a row).
5. The time of year
Colds are more common during the winter months, while seasonal allergies are more common in spring through fall, when trees, grass, and weeds pollinate. Indoor allergies affect people year-round.
6. The presence of fever
Colds may be accompanied by a fever. Allergies are not typically associated with a fever.
7. The presence of itching
Itching is typical of allergies and it may affect eyes, nose, throat, and ears. Colds do not typically cause itching of any kind.
If you think you might have allergies, or if your cold symptoms seem severe or if you are not getting better, contact your Primary Care Doctor for follow up.
Have a question? Contact us at AskANurse@DirectPathHealth.com