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If you or your child experience the classic runny nose, bout of sneezing, or annoying cough, you may be wondering if what you’re dealing with is allergies or the common cold. Sometimes this confusion can cause more stress, especially if you’re worried that you or your loved one might be contagious. There are a few easy ways to distinguish the differences, however. The season you find yourself in can often be a pretty good indicator of what your symptoms can be attributed to, especially in warmer months, but below we’ll break down a bit more about what to do if you have a cold that mimics allergies or vice versa.


Common colds are often caused by viruses that leave you feeling unwell anywhere from three to ten days.i You may find yourself needing more rest, pain relievers, or other decongestant over the counter medications to feel some form of relief. According to the Mayo Clinic, colds may include the following symptoms:

  • Cough (usually)
  • General aches and pains (sometimes)
  • Fatigue and weakness (sometimes)
  • Sneezing (usually)
  • Runny nose (usually)
  • Stuffy nose (usually)
  • Fever (sometimes) ii


Allergies typically create an immune response when a person is exposed to known allergens or season pollen.iii These symptoms, however, can last for several weeks in comparison to the more fixed timeline of a cold. Treatment for allergy-like symptoms include taking over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays and decongestants, or simply avoiding the allergens. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies may include the following symptoms:

  • Cough (sometimes)
  • Fatigue and weakness (sometimes)
  • Itchy eyes (usually)
  • Sneezing (usually)
  • Runny nose (usually)
  • Stuffy nose (usually)iv

We hope this symptom checker can help you distinguish the triggers to your seasonal allergies or differentiate between a cold and allergies. For more information on how to cope with seasonal allergies and other tips and tricks, be sure to visit the Flonase site.


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i-iv.Cold or Allergy: Which is it? Mayo Clinic. Accessed 5/29/2020.