It seems like we go through this cycle every year: as the weather gets colder and various viruses make their rounds, you find yourself wondering, “Do I have a cold, or is it allergies?” As we go through our second winter of the COVID-19 pandemic as well, there is an added layer of uncertainty about what exactly is causing your unpleasant symptoms. Here are a few tips for knowing whether you have a cold or allergies.
The first step is identifying your symptoms. From there, you can see whether they are more likely due to a cold or allergies (or something else).
Common Cold Symptoms
Symptoms of the common cold include:
- Headache with body aches
- A fever
- Achy throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
Children may also experience the following cold symptoms:
- Ear pain
- Lack of appetite
The common cold usually isn’t too serious. Your symptoms may be annoying, but they are typically not severe.
Allergy sufferers often experience the following symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
As you can see, seasonal allergies and the common cold share several symptoms, including sneezing, nasal congestion, and coughing. However, a cold does not typically cause itchy, watery eyes or a rash. These may be indicators that you are suffering from allergies, not a cold. On the other hand, a fever is not typically part of seasonal allergy symptoms. If you have a fever along with other symptoms, you may have a cold.
Another good indicator as to whether you are suffering from a cold or allergies is how long your symptoms last. A common cold typically lasts 10 days or less. In contrast, seasonal allergies can last for weeks or months.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to know the symptoms of COVID as well. The following are common symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- New loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
While several symptoms overlap among allergies, COVID, and the common cold, there are a few that are unique to COVID. Neither a cold nor allergies cause vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, allergies do not cause muscle or body aches.
If you need help determining whether your symptoms are more likely caused by a cold, allergies, or COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic has created handy symptom checkers that compare the likelihood of specific symptoms in each case. Of course, with so much overlap, you may need to be tested for COVID-19 to truly determine whether or not your symptoms are caused by the coronavirus.
For more information about determining whether your symptoms are caused by a cold or allergies (or something else), we welcome you to contact us at West River ENT & Allergy today. We can also discuss treatment options to help you manage your symptoms.