Cold or Allergy? Confused? Here is how to tell the difference

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How to tell the difference between cold and allergy?

Most often, people tend to have difficulty on how to differentiate between cold and allergy. This is because their symptoms are very much alike and it is very easy to confuse one for another.

In medical facilities, the practitioners will be quick to admit that this is a common phenomenon among patients. Most patients will come completely convinced that they are suffering from allergy whereas they are having a cold and vice versa.

To some people, differentiating between these two conditions can be very easy, but the fact is millions of people out there are ever having problems telling which is which.

In many cases, when the symptoms are still mild, you might not have a clear idea on how to tell the difference between the two of them. You will then need to wait and be keen as they progress. Other symptoms will outright tell you the difference from the start.

All you need to do is be more observant once you start noticing the bellow signs.

The Mucus Color

Both allergy and cold involve the secretion of mucus as one of the symptoms. In the initial stages, the color of mucus will be clear for both allergy and cold, but then some significant changes will be noted as time goes by.
This is what will set these two apart and give you a clear indication of what you are dealing with.
For allergies, the mucus will remain clear and watery whereas the color will shift to yellow if you are having a cold.
This is one of the common difference between allergy and cold. There is no single case where allergy will have a yellow mucus that will definitely be cold.

How Long Do The Symptoms Last?

When making a comparison between these two conditions, a pattern will be noted when it comes to how long the condition lasts. This makes it a very ideal piece of information on how to tell the difference between allergy and cold.
For those individuals with cold, the symptoms will tend to hang around for a couple of days, say four to five days. The longest it may take for the symptoms to disappear is most definitely a week, nothing more than that. If at all its allergy and the allergen is still around, for example, a neighbor’s dog or a particular type of pollen from the flowers on your backyard then it will take much longer.

The Seasons When The Symptoms Occur.

Allergy and cold will always be experienced during certain seasons. This is the case because it is either when the flowers will be blooming dispersing more pollen in the air or when there is intense cold.
If you find yourself often sneezing, coughing and sniffling mostly when its spring or fall then you are most probably having an allergy.

But if these symptoms come around in late summer and winter then know that you have a common cold. This is because winter is always characterized by chilly weather that can end up causing a common cold. To be sure it’s one and not the other you need countercheck with the other mentioned ideas to be sure.

The Type Of a Cough

Coughing is one of the most common phenomena when having either of the two. You will need to have a proper insight to be able to know how to tell the difference between allergy and cold. If at all you experience the type of a cough then definitely you are having a cold. However if you end up having a dry cough then know you have an allergy.

This is quite a very easy method of differentiating between the two. With this, you won’t need any other assurances but seek medical advice on how to deal with the situation. There are also other minor signs and symptoms that will give you a clear idea on the difference between allergy and cold.

Having an intense fever simply means that you are having a cold. Allergy does not bring about fever, and even if it does in a case of severe allergy. It won’t be as intense as a fever.


For those who are not able to get out of bed due to muscle pain, then you are more likely suffering from cold.
For you to get a quick overview of how to tell the difference between allergy and cold. Take a look at the table below where I have summarized the most common differences between the two.


Allergy Cold
 Clear watery mucus Yellow mucus
 Symptoms persist for quite a long time if the   allergen is still around Symptoms take a short time, mostly 5 to 10 days
 Mostly occurs during spring and fall Mostly occurs during late summer and winter
 A dry cough sometimes A cough with mucus
 No fever is experienced Intense fever
 Itchy and watery eyes Not applicable to cold
 Not Common to have Body aches Body aches
 Sometimes develop Eczema No Eczema
 Symptoms show immediately after contact with   allergens Symptoms take few days to appear after virus infection


It is very important to tell the difference between these two conditions. It is useful so that you can be able to get proper medication.
If diagnosed improperly you might end up avoiding some allergens with the aim of trying to cure what you barely have.

It is thus important you make sure that you have the right diagnosis. Your body might also end up reacting with the initiated medication. It is only done because you were misdiagnosed.

From the above information, you should be able to know how to tell the difference between allergy and cold.

Make sure you keep in mind even the tiny bit as it might be the only symptom you have to tell the difference. Some like the color of mucus will need some time to distinguish. In that case, you will have to be on the lookout if at all you want to end up with the correct diagnosis.

Be patient and do not be too quick to make a judgment ,in order to make the right observations. Through this vital information, you should know that how to tell the difference between allergy and cold. You shunt miss even a simple single indication.

Simple Remedies for Allergy and for Cold

You don’t necessarily have to go to the doctor to get treated after the diagnosis. You can individually do it at home.
For cold, We all know that there is no cure for cold , but you can reduce the symptoms effect & duration on your body by doing simple things :
  • Make sure that you drink a lot of fluids to replenish your
    system and keep you hydrated and it will decrease congestion.
  • Breathe in hot steam from a boiling pot to loosen your mucus.
  • Blow out your nose instead of sniffling.
  • Keep warm throughout while having plenty of rest.
  • Gargle warm salt water to sooth the scratchy throat.
  • Get a a lot of rest and try to sleep well
  • Use OVC saline nasal drops and sprays to relieve stuffiness and congestion.
  • Try to use air humidifier for more moist air in your home,it may help losing the congestion

This will make you feel better after some time.

For Allergies,The main thing that you can do to treat allergies  is prevention 
  • Try to avoid the allergens as much as you can once you identify them.
  • Use over-the-counter meds :antihistamines,Nasal steroids ,& decongestants

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