Do I Have an Allergy or a Cold?headingContent

Posted on June 12, 2013

man blowing his noseAchoo! Is that a cold coming on, or the beginning of allergy season?

The symptoms of colds and allergies are confusingly similar, which can make finding the right treatment method a challenge. Colds are best dealt with by getting plenty of rest and drinking a lot of water. Allergies may be relieved with a little Benadryl and a willingness to stay indoors on high pollen days. If you’re suddenly struggling with a stuffy nose and a headache, use these telltale indicators to determine what exactly is plaguing you.

  • Do you have a fever? Colds usually include a low-grade fever. If yours is hovering around 99 degrees, it’s probably a cold. If your temperature is remaining in a normal range, CNN Health says you should blame your allergies.
  • How quickly did your symptoms come on? Allergy symptoms appear very quickly, while a cold may begin with only a subtle scratch in the throat before slowly progressing to more irksome complaints.
  • What’s going on with your eyes? According to, watery and itchy eyes are two symptoms that allergies may include, especially in children. Patients with colds usually don’t notice any problems with their eyes.
  • Did your symptoms begin right when pollen levels began to rise, or after a day spent outdoors? Although this won’t give you a conclusive answer, it can point you toward the correct diagnosis. Allergies are unlikely to appear without a clear cause.

If you or a family member is suffering from symptoms of seasonal allergies, we can help! Find a family doctor whose care and advice you trust. Get a free physician referral and set up an appointment when you call 1-866-654-2362. If your allergies are severe, our general practices will recommend an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician in our network.