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How To Tell If Allergies Or Cold

Allergies Do Not Cause Fevers

People often wonder if allergies can cause a fever. The answer is no. Allergies cannot cause a fever, though you could have an allergy flare at the same time you’re experiencing a fever from another infection.

With a cold, your temperature can run warmer, but typically it will be less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Quiz: Do You Have A Cold Or Allergies

With many similar symptoms it can be difficult to figure out if what you’ve got is a common cold or seasonal allergies. Take our quiz to get a better idea of what might be making you stuffed up!

This quiz won’t count as a doctor’s note – so remember – if you are suffering from cold or allergy symptoms you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified MeMD medical provider – all from the comfort of your home or office!

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How Can I Prevent Colds And Allergies

To avoid catching a virus and spreading colds:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, which are the areas of your body most vulnerable to germs.

To avoid seasonal allergies:

  • Try to limit your contact with the allergens you react to.
  • If your allergies bother you a lot, immunotherapy may help reduce or even completely prevent irritating symptoms.

Exposure To Certain Substances Can Worsen Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms typically get worse with more frequent exposure to the allergen, and they improve when exposure is reduced. For example, say a child has a dust mite allergy. They’ll likely experience sneezing and nasal congestion while inside their home, but the symptoms will improve after spending time in the backyard, says Dr. Jain. Because of this, allergy symptoms can be intermittent and may vary throughout the day and week. 

What Are Colds And Allergies

Cold Or Allergies Suck!

They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. There are hundreds of different types that can get you sick.

Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system, the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. It’s this response that brings on the classic symptoms like a or stuffed up nose.

The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, , or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.

It’s a different story with . They’re caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or , for germs and mounts an attack on them.

When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as , just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start and .

Unlike , aren’t contagious, though some people may inherit a tendency to get them.

Symptoms That Recommend A Chilly

Some signs strongly recommend that your baby has a chilly. These embody:

Fever. If your baby has a fever, you need not marvel any longer. Allergies by no means trigger fever. Colds generally do. A fever might also make your baby listless or achy. Allergies seldom trigger these signs.  

Red nasal membranes. If you look inside your kid’s nostril like a health care provider would, you might uncover one other clue. Nasal tissues which are purple, swollen, and infected recommend a chilly. Thick, yellow mucus additionally signifies a chilly, however the mucus might also be skinny and clear. 


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How Long The Symptoms Last

Years ago, I had the opportunity to go on an overseas trip to France. Then, my first weekend there, I got hit with the worst allergies I had in my life. I did my best to ignore it, but they didn’t go away. It wasn’t until I went out and got medicine in a foreign land that I was back to my full self.

There’s a very key, underappreciated different between allergies and colds. With colds, your body will fight off the infection, with or without medicine, usually in under a week. Allergies are not as kind. If left untreated, they won’t disappear. They’ll continue hampering your life, day in and out, until a few weeks have passed.

If you believe you have a cold and the symptoms haven’t disappeared after a week, you’ve waited too long. It’s always best to take some kind of medicine for a cold, even if you’re only suffering from allergies, or vice versa.  Your body will thank you for it.

Taking The Right Medication For The Right Illness

The best thing to do for cold or sinus symptoms during the first seven to 10 days is to treat the symptoms, not the illness. You can do this with medications such as:

  • Cough medicine
  • Decongestant or saline spray for nasal congestion
  • Pain reliever

Cold viruses don’t respond to antibiotics, so taking them during the first seven days probably won’t help. In fact, taking antibiotics when they’re not needed can increase your risk for being infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or other serious antibiotic related problems.

After seven to 10 days, when the symptoms are more likely to indicate a sinus infection, it may be time to ask your doctor about antibiotics. However, sinus infections can and do sometimes go away on their own, just like colds. Ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic or if the infection is likely to go away on its own without medication.

If your symptoms point to allergies, many effective medications are available over the counter to control symptoms, such as antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. These medications work on all sorts of allergies because they suppress the body’s reactions to allergens, rather than treating the specific allergen. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, however, so be cautious of that when taking them. They also do not help stuffiness or pressure symptoms, so adding a decongestant plus a pain reliever as needed can help you “ride it out.”

Is It Allergies Or A Cold

Cold and allergy symptoms often overlap, so it’s easy to mistake cold symptoms for allergies, and vice versa. Understanding the cause of your symptoms helps you choose the right treatment. It also gives you a better picture of your overall health.

Clinicians use the 5 factors below to help distinguish between colds and allergies.

Know Your Paths To Care

We’re here to help you get better quickly, with tools and information for self-care and convenient options for visits or advice when you need it. Easy ways to get help for your cold or allergy symptoms include:

  • Consulting Nurse Service: Call a nurse, who will assess your symptoms and recommend treatments or other next steps. Available 24/7.
  • Online visit: Complete a questionnaire about your symptoms. A clinician will provide a diagnosis, treatment plan and, if needed, a prescription — without a trip to your doctor’s office.
  • CareClinic by Kaiser Permanente at Bartell Drugs:Walk in for care at 15 Puget Sound Bartell Drugs locations. Open 7 days a week with evening and weekend hours.

It’s Probably Allergies If:

Your mucus is clear or watery. And it will stay clear, instead of becoming thick or discolored like it can with a cold, says Michael Benninger, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Your eyes are itchy or watery. It’s rare to have itchy eyes when you have a cold.

Your symptoms stay the same. “Allergies may feel extra intense for the first day or 2, but you’ll have the same symptoms day after day,” Benninger says.

You’ve had the sniffles for more than a week. A cold usually clears up in 7 to 10 days, but allergies can last several weeks or longer.

Your symptoms show up only in certain situations. Find yourself sneezing every spring or fall? Those are common times for allergies. Another allergy tip-off: Being in a specific place makes you feel miserable — for example, in a house with a cat.

Similar Symptoms Different Causes

To understand the difference between a cold and allergies, it is important to know that some cold symptoms are actually the same as some allergy symptoms. Plus, everyone experiences colds and allergies a little differently. It’s no wonder why it can be challenging to figure out exactly what’s going on.

Do You Have A Cold Or Allergies

How to Tell Whether You Have a Cold or Allergies

WebMD Feature

Do you know how to tell the difference between a and ? Are you sure?

It’s easy to get them confused. Just ask Paul Ehrlich, MD, a professor of pediatrics at New York University. He’d been an allergist for years when he came down with what he thought was a cold. “I’d had a watery, runny nose for several days when one of my patients took a look at me and said, ‘Oh, you have allergies, too!'” Ehrlich says.

He’d never had allergies before, but a checkup with another doctor confirmed that the patient was right. “Turns out I was allergic to birch trees, which were in bloom at the time,” he says.

A cold is an infection caused by a virus. Allergies are your immune system’s reaction to a substance like or pet dander. Because the two conditions cause similar symptoms, like sniffles and stuffiness, many people get them mixed up. Knowing which is which can help you get the right treatment, and that will help you feel better faster.

Treating The Common Cold

Your body will get rid of the cold virus over time. Since only kill bacteria, they won’t work on the viruses that cause colds. Still, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms while a cold runs its course.

Cold remedies include:

  • pain relievers, such as or

Cough syrups and OTC medications aren’t recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays aren’t recommended for children under age 6.

Ask your doctor before taking any OTC cold medication, especially if you also take prescription medications, have any existing health conditions, or are pregnant.

Don’t use cold medications for a long period of time. Using them for extended periods can cause side effects such as rebound congestion.

You can also try home treatments to relieve a cold, such as:

  • drinking more fluids like water, juice, and herbal tea
  • loratadine-pseudoephedrine

Decongestants come in pills and nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestants such as can make your congestion worse if you use them for more than three days in a row.

Is It A Cold Or Allergies

It’s often hard to tell the difference between a cold and allergies. Both can cause similar symptoms, such as a runny and/or stuffy nose, , fatigue, and a sore throat. However, there are some differences that might help you tell if it’s allergies vs. a cold.

Simply put, colds are infections caused by viruses. Colds can be contagious up to two days before symptoms start and can last two weeks after exposure to the virus. Allergies, on the other hand, are not contagious, and the symptoms you experience are your immune system’s reaction to allergens, such as pollen.

Take our simple allergies vs. cold quiz to learn the differences between cold and common allergy symptoms.


Allergies Rarely Cause Sore Throats Or Body Aches

The only ache you may feel with allergies is a headache from all that congestion. Your throat may also feel dry or scratching. But if you’re experiencing a sore throat or mild body aches, they’re more likely a sign of a bad cold.

Can allergies cause chills? No. If you have chills, it’s more likely you have a cold, the flu or another infection .

How To Treat The Common Cold

The only thing that usually can heal a cold is time. Your body will fight to get rid of the virus over the course of a week or so, and there’s not much that can be done to help it. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, and since colds are viral they’re not an effective treatment. Time, rest, and fluids are the road to recovery. 

However, there are medications that can help relieve your symptoms and discomfort while the cold runs its course. Cold symptom treatments include:

  • cough syrups and over-the-counter cold medications*
  • decongestant or saline nasal sprays*
  • pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen

You can also try these home remedies to help with cold symptoms relief:

  • drinking more fluids like water, sugar-free juice, and herbal tea
  • avoiding caffeine
  • using nasal rinses, like a neti pot
  • gargling with saltwater
  • cold compress
  • cool-temp humidifier

*Cough syrups and OTC medications aren’t recommended for children under 4 years old, while nasal sprays aren’t recommended for children under age 6.

You Notice A Seasonal Pattern

If you’re the type of person who swears they get the same cold every March, it might be time to reconsider. “If you notice it’s seasonal like clockwork, and every spring or fall you get these symptoms, it might be allergy-related,” Dr. Parikh says.

That holds true even if your seasonal symptoms occur earlier than you might think of as allergy season, Dr. Rosenstreich says. “In the Northeast, for example, most people are not aware of the fact that the trees begin to pollinate even when there’s still snow on the ground. Depending on the weather, people can have allergy symptoms in February.”


Is It Allergies Or A Cold Here’s How To Tell The Difference

Allergies and colds can present with similar symptoms in kids, ranging from runny nose and sneezing to cough and sore throat. We spoke with an expert to learn the key differences that could help you make a diagnosis.

Sneezing, coughing, postnasal drip… It’s not always easy to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and colds. “There is quite a bit of overlap in symptoms,” says Sanjeev Jain, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy. But learning to tell them apart is key for diagnosis and treatment, which can help your child feel better faster. Here, we break down the causes of allergies and colds in children, with tips for differentiating the symptoms.

Keep Your Asthma In Check

While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath have been symptoms associated with coronavirus, it can also be signs of asthma that can flare up with the allergy season. If you don’t have a fever present with these symptoms, asthma could be the culprit.

People with asthma need to stay on top of their treatment, says Dr. Benninger, especially since people with respiratory issues are at a higher risk of potentially severe illness from coronavirus. Whether it’s inhalers or nasal sprays, it’s important to be up to date on their medication and proper usage. 

Dr. Benninger also recommends starting allergy medications early in the allergy season rather than waiting for the worst part.

“If you can prevent the symptoms from worsening, then you’re much more likely to have less difficulty when you get to the time of the season when allergies tend to get out of control,” he says.

How Can I Tell The Difference Between Covid

Coughing and Sneezing? How to Know if It

With the easing of restrictions we still need to be diligent in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID.  Having said this, we are well into summer allergies and colds.  It’s good to know and understand the differences.

There are some symptoms that are similar between these respiratory illnesses. This chart can help you figure out if you may be feeling symptoms of allergies or a respiratory illness like COVID-19. If you have a fever and a cough, please call 811 or your doctor. 

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How To Tell The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies Symptoms

First, consider the symptoms. Colds and allergies both lead to sneezing, , and , Kristine Arthur, an internist at MemorialCare Medical Group, says. But there are some key symptoms that set each illness apart. 

Got an itchy sensation in your eyes or nose? That’s a tipoff you have allergies.

On the other hand, if you’re suffering from a headache, body aches, and a mild fever, those are signature symptoms of a , not allergies.

And while it might be gross, take a good look at your snot. If it’s thin and clear, you probably have allergies. But if it’s thick and discolored, then it’s probably a cold, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When Did You Begin To Feel Unwell

If you remember being around someone who had an upper respiratory infection a few days before you started feeling ill, you may have caught a viral infection. Viruses are spread by contact with sneezes, coughs, and contaminated surfaces such as door handles. Allergies, on the other hand, can begin immediately after coming in contact with triggers such as pollen. If you think you might be experiencing a seasonal allergy, check the pollen count in your area; if levels are high, allergies may be the culprit.

Is It Allergies A Cold Or Something Else

Is It Allergies, a Cold or Something Else?


North Texans know that allergy season can last all year. There always seems to be something in the air that can cause a scratchy throat or itchy eyes. But what if the symptoms mean something else? That’s the thing with allergies — the symptoms are just hazy enough that they cross paths with other illnesses. To know the difference, it helps to know the culprit.

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system that sends your body into defense mode when something that’s usually harmless, such as dust or pollen, is mistaken for germs. Your body releases histamines to go after the allergens, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause swelling in your nasal passages, a runny nose, cough, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.

Colds, on the other hand, are caused by hundreds of different viruses. When one of these viruses gets into your body, thanks to contact with an infected person or contaminated surface, your immune system fights back. The response can come in the way of nasal congestion, a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.


How to Tell What You Have

Despite similarities , allergies and colds do have some differences. The most important one is that colds usually don’t last longer than 14 days. Plus, they may bring with them body aches, a fever and a sore throat. If you still have symptoms after two weeks, you should check in with your doctor.


Could It Be Something More?

Should You Deal With Your Kids Chilly Or Allergy Symptoms

You can deal with each allergy symptoms and colds at house with largely pure treatments. It’s finest to not give medicines for chilly signs, even over-the-counter medicine, with out asking your kid’s physician. There is little proof that they work, and so they can have unintended effects.

Deciding when to name the physician generally is a powerful parenting determination. Of course, it is best to discuss to your kid’s physician in case you see any indicators of a extra critical sickness. You ought to look ahead to signs of bronchial asthma. Look for:

If your kid’s signs final a very long time, the physician might recommend that your baby be examined for allergy symptoms.

Clinical Contributors To This Story

Parneet Grewal, M.D. contributes to topics such as Family Medicine.

You might expect to have a scratchy throat and a runny nose in the dead of winter, but on a beautiful summer’s day, these symptoms seem out of place . It is possible to experience the common cold during the warm-weather months, but the symptoms may actually be a sign that you have allergies, not a cold. How can you tell the difference when you’re feeling lousy?

“Although colds and allergies have some overlapping symptoms, there are reliable ways to tell them apart, including the presence or absence of certain symptoms and the duration of your discomfort,” says Parneet Grewal, M.D., a family medicine specialist with Hackensack Meridian Medical Group.

Summer colds can be different

Most people who get colds in the winter are infected by common viruses known as rhinoviruses, which are most active during the chillier months. You’re less likely to be exposed to, or become ill from, rhinoviruses when it’s warm out.

Instead, a different type of virus causes colds more often during the warmer months: Enteroviruses. They’re less common than rhinoviruses overall, but they’re more prevalent during the summer.

Seasonal allergies can pop up during the summer

Many people with seasonal allergies experience discomfort during the springtime, when trees pollinate. But some people are allergic to grass or ragweed, which can cause allergy symptoms well into the summer.

COVID-19 symptoms mimic some cold and allergy symptoms

Diagnosing Colds And Allergies

You don’t need to see your doctor for a cold, but if you do make an appointment, your symptoms will likely be enough for them to confirm your diagnosis.

If your doctor thinks you might have a bacterial infection such as strep throat or , you might need other tests such as a throat culture or chest X-ray.

For allergies, you may need to see a primary care doctor, an ear-nose-throat doctor, or an allergist. The doctor will first ask about your symptoms. Severe or life-threatening allergic reactions often require the care of an allergy specialist.

A variety of can be used to diagnose allergies. A skin test can be used to determine your allergy triggers. Sometimes primary doctors or allergy specialists may also use blood tests to diagnose allergies depending on your age and other health conditions.

Talk With A Doctor Or Clinician To Create A Personalized Treatment Plan

If you aren’t sure if it’s a cold or allergies, or if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, it’s best to connect with a care provider to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your allergy symptoms are left untreated, you could become more prone to getting sinus infections or other upper respiratory infections, or may lead to poor asthma control.

Also, a common cold can turn severe. So, if your cold has had you laid up longer than a day or two, get in touch with your doctor.

You have a couple options:

Make an appointment for face-to-face care from a primary care doctor or clinician. Whether you choose a video visit or in-person appointment, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan – including connecting you with an or an if needed.

Schedule an appointment

Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary – and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. We’ll ask you a few questions, and you’ll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner. Each visit is just $59 or less, depending on your insurance.

How To Tell If A Cough Is From A Cold Allergies Or Asthma

How To Tell If It

Colds are very common. Most of us can expect to experience colds three or four times a year, and school-age children can get even more. Allergies are also very common, with 50 million people in America alone having them and around 8% of us experiencing seasonal allergies like hay fever. While asthma isn’t as common, it is something that many people are living with. 

All three of these conditions list a cough as a primary symptom. This cough may be dry or chesty. It may be your first symptom or something that develops later on. It might come and go, or it could be a constant. Coughs range from mild, and completely manageable, to more severe. But, most coughs are easy to treat, as long as you understand the root cause. So, how do you know whether your cough is being caused by a cold, allergies, or asthma?

Often, the best way to figure out the root cause of your cough is to take a look at your other symptoms, which may be different. 


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