January 21, 2019

Are you Dealing With a Cold or Allergies?

A big question we’re always asked (especially during this time of year) is “How do I know if I have a cold or allergies”? This can be a difficult question to determine, but there are some simple ways to try and figure it out.

Fever/Raised Temperature

Check your temperature. If you’re noticing your body temperature isn’t at the normal 98.6 degrees (give or take a degree), you’re probably experiencing a cold or flu. It’s a misconception that allergies will raise your temperature significantly, especially with the term “cedar fever” being used so much in Texas. The definition of a fever is 100.4. So if you have a temperature over 100, this is typically a cold/infection.

Itchy, watery or red eyes

These are one of the biggest signs of suffering from allergies. A cold can cause watery, red, and irritated eyes, but if they’re very itchy, this is likely allergies.

Symptoms lasting longer than 10 days

Rarely will a cold last longer than 10 days. Cold symptoms can linger, but should be improving significantly. Cold symptoms will usually come fast and leave fast. Allergies will affect you as long as the season (pollen) lasts. If you’re also feeling sick at certain times of the year, you’re probably being affected by allergies.

Aches and pains

Allergies do not cause as severe of body aches and pains like a cold can. If you’re feeling discomfort in your muscles and joints, then you’re most likely suffering from a cold. Allergies can definitely make you feel tired, and mildly achy, but not usually as severe as colds can.

Sore Throat

Usually when you feel a sore throat, you’re also dealing with a cold. While suffering from allergies can sometimes cause this, it’s most likely a cold, especially when it’s more than just scratchy or irritated.

Still deciding what you're suffering from? Check out our page for more info! If you can’t determine what you’re suffering from, visit a local allergy expert or your primary care physician, and they can help you determine what’s affecting you and how you can treat it.

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About The Author:

Haley Overstreet, MD

Dr. Overstreet completed her Family Medicine Residency at The University of Alabama Family Medicine Residency in Tuscaloosa. After spending 3 years practicing Family Medicine in Austin, she's happy to be working in a more specialized practice focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of both seasonal and food allergies.