Tips and Tools: Is it an allergy or a cold?

There are several symptoms that are common to both allergies and colds, and knowing which one is causing symptoms can be confusing. However, there are certain characteristics and symptoms of allergies and colds that can help to distinguish between the two. Allergies can last for days, weeks or months, whereas colds usually only last for three to seven days. Also, colds are contagious, but allergies are not. The chart below shows the differences in symptoms between allergies and colds. If you still are not sure, consult with your doctor or health care provider.


Symptoms Allergies Colds
Fever Usually none Rarely
Nasal discharge Watery Thick and yellowish
Sneezing Yes Yes
Headache Yes Yes, but rarely
Sore throat Yes Usually scratchy

Learn more about Antihistaminic