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Home Health Library Frequently Asked Questions Cold or allergy: Which is it?

Cold or allergy: Which is it?

Answer Section

If you tend to get "colds" that start suddenly and happen at the same time every year, it's possible that you actually have seasonal allergies. Although colds and seasonal allergies may share some of the same symptoms, they are very different diseases.

Common colds are caused by viruses. Seasonal allergies, however, are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens, such as seasonal tree or grass pollens.

You can treat a common cold with rest, pain relievers and cold remedies, such as decongestants. A cold often lasts 5-7 days in adults, although some may last as long as two or three weeks.

You can treat seasonal allergies with antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays and decongestants. Avoid exposure to allergens where possible. Seasonal allergies may last several weeks.

Symptom check: Is it a cold or allergy?
Symptom Cold Allergy
Cough Usually Sometimes
General aches and pains Sometimes Never
Tiredness and weakness Sometimes Sometimes
Itchy eyes Rarely Usually
Sneezing Usually Usually
Sore throat Usually Rarely
Runny nose Usually Usually
Stuffy nose Usually Usually
Fever Sometimes Never
Last Updated: February 17th, 2022