allergies vs cold

Colds are caused by viruses, while seasonal allergies are triggered by exposure to allergens, such as seasonal tree or grass pollen, which trigger immune system responses.

Regardless of whether you’re allergic to a specific item or not, it’s important to understand the difference between allergies and colds so that you can treat them effectively. 

The key to knowing whether you have a cold or allergies is to identify whether you’re experiencing itchy eyes, a runny nose, coughing, or sneezing.

There is a big difference between common colds and seasonal allergies. Common colds are caused by viruses, while seasonal allergies are triggered by allergen exposure, such as a pollen allergy.

Generally, colds last for one week, but some colds may last longer if the person is in poor health, the elderly or children. In the United States, colds cause more visits to the doctor than any other health problem.

Additionally, allergies are very common. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that there are about 50 million allergy sufferers in the United States and much more worldwide.

Symptoms of Allergies Vs Colds

Allergy symptoms

The symptoms of allergies are not contagious, but they are similar to those of the common cold. 

  1. Runny or stuffed nose
  2. Sneezing
  3. Wheezing
  4. Coughing
  5. Watery or itchy eyes
  6. Post nasal drip

Common cold symptoms

  1. Low-grade fever
  2. Body aches
  3. Laryngitis or sore throat
  4. Runny nose
  5. Cough
cold symptoms

Itchy Eyes

Symptoms of allergies are often confused with colds, but it is important to know the difference between the two to get proper treatment. By knowing the difference, you will be able to get relief faster and feel better.

While colds and allergies are both viral infections, they have different causes and symptoms. Colds tend to last for a week or two, while allergies can last for weeks.

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. The body releases chemicals to fight perceived harmful substances. Symptoms may include itchy skin, watery eyes, sneezing, and congestion.

Runny Nose

Whether you have allergies or a cold, the symptoms may be the same. However, there are several differences between the two.

A cold is a viral infection, while allergies are an immune response. 

A cold usually produces a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and a fever. Knowing what causes these symptoms will help you receive the right treatment.

When you have an allergy, your immune system releases histamines, which cause the symptoms. This is different from the cold, which produces a cough, thick mucus and a sore throat.


Symptoms of allergies and colds are similar, but there are many differences. When people are exposed to a substance they are allergic to, their immune system reacts by producing chemicals like histamine. These chemicals can cause itchy eyes, sneezing, and a cough.

When someone gets a cold, they are generally infected with a virus. This virus is very contagious and can be passed on through coughing or touching an object with the virus on it. 

Some symptoms of a cold include fever, fatigue, body aches, and a runny nose.

Nasal Congestion

Allergies and colds can manifest very similar symptoms, so it is essential to know the difference between the two. Knowing what causes the symptoms can help you get the correct treatment and get better.

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to an environmental substance. Oftentimes, the body will react to a harmless substance, like dust or pollen, by producing histamine. 

These hormones cause a number of common allergy symptoms, including itchy eyes, watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose.


seasonal allergies vs cold

Using over-the-counter medications and/or a visit to your doctor, you should be able to get rid of your ills. This includes the oh so common cold and its ilk. 

However, you may also have a respiratory allergy, which could be an even more sinister culprit. If this is the case, you could have a plethora of frightening symptoms.

While there are no guarantees, you should at least know which you are dealing with. It is also a good idea to know which allergens you are allergic to. You may want to use air filters indoors, and change your furnace filters regularly.


Getting a COVID-19 test is more convenient than ever, with tests available over the counter at local pharmacies. 

There are also a number of studies underway to ensure that these rapid tests are accurate and provide the information patients need to make decisions about their treatment.

Despite the name, allergies and colds are two very different illnesses. They share some common symptoms, but the two are not always interchangeable. Getting a COVID-19 test can help you distinguish between the two.

Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications

allergies vs cold symptoms

Depending on the type of allergy, over-the-counter allergy medications may be able to help with your symptoms. These medications come in liquids, pills and nasal sprays. 

If you are considering allergy medication, you should consult your doctor to determine the right medication for your condition.

The following allergy medicines are among the best.

  1. Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  2. Claritin (loratadine)
  3. Allegra (fexofenadine)
  4. Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  5. Xyzal (levocetirizine)

Antihistamines block histamine, a chemical produced by your immune system during an allergic reaction. They can help relieve symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and congestion. 

However, antihistamines are not effective in curing allergies, and they may have side effects.

When to See a Doctor for Allergies Or Colds

Often, when people experience symptoms, they are confused as to whether they have an allergy or a cold. 

Allergies and colds are very similar, but the two are caused by different viruses. Colds are viruses that infect the upper respiratory system. 

Common cold symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat, and fever. They are usually mild and last for a week or two. If you are unsure about whether or not you have a cold or an allergy, visit your doctor for advice.

Final thoughts

During the spring and fall, many people may experience an allergy. However, it is important to understand the difference between allergies and colds.

Colds are caused by viruses. They cause a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and a sore throat. These symptoms typically last for 10 days, but they can last longer. 

If you have a cold, you should see your doctor. Colds can be a very serious infection. They can also result in headaches, body aches, and even a fever.