You’re feeling crummy, with sneezing, sniffles, post-nasal drip… is it a cold, or are your allergies flaring up? It can be hard to tell them apart because they share so many symptoms.
are caused by viruses and can lead to a runny/stuffy nose, congestion, cough
and sore throat. (Note: The flu can also cause similar symptoms, but it also
often comes with a high fever that lasts for three to four days, along with
headache, fatigue and general aches and pain. These symptoms are less common
when you have a cold.)
aren’t caused by a virus. They occur when your body’s immune system reacts to a
trigger, or allergen, to which you are allergic. If you have allergies and you
breathe in things such as pollen or pet dander, the immune cells in your nose
and airways may overreact to these harmless substances. Your delicate respiratory
tissues may then swell, and your nose may become stuffy or runny. Allergies also
can cause itchy, watery eyes, which you don’t normally have with a cold.
symptoms usually last as long as you’re exposed to the allergen, which may be
about six weeks during pollen seasons in the spring, summer or fall. Colds
rarely last beyond two weeks. Check with your doctor if symptoms last beyond 10
days or if symptoms aren’t relieved by over-thecounter medicines.