The duration and frequency of symptoms may also help you tell the difference. The symptoms of a cold typically last three to 14 days, but allergy symptoms last longer, usually for weeks, or as long as the person is exposed to an allergen. Colds tend to occur in the winter, and they often take several days to show up after exposure to a virus. With seasonal allergies, the onset of symptoms occurs immediately after exposure to either indoor or outdoor pollens in the winter, spring, summer or fall.
Because allergies and colds are very different illnesses, they warrant different types of over-the-counter treatments. Avoiding allergy-causing substances, if possible, can also help to reduce your allergy symptom burden.
1. Steckelberg JM. I seem to get a cold every spring and fall. I’m wondering if these “colds are really seasonal allergies. How can I tell? [Internet]. May Clinic; 2014 [cited 2015 June 10]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/common-cold/faq-20057857
2. Allergy Also called: Hypersensitivity [Internet]. Bethesda: MedlinePlus; 2015 [cited 2015 June 10]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/allergy.html