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Could Those Cold Symptoms Be Allergies?

The dreaded common cold. If you’ve ever had one, you know that it feels anything but common. Everyone knows the classic symptoms:
• Stuffy head
• Drippy nose
• Watery eyes
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Sneezing

But wait a minute. Those are all symptoms of allergies, too, and allergies affect people of all ages. So, how do you know if you have allergies or a cold?

The Ailments, Explained

The most common allergy is seasonal allergic rhinitis. This is better known as hay fever. About 35 million Americans suffer from hay fever.

However, the problem isn’t actually hay – It’s inhaled pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. Pollen makes your body create histamine. This is the chemical that causes your misery. Allergy symptoms can last from weeks to months, depending on the cause.

The common cold is actually an upper respiratory infection. It can be caused by over 200 different viruses. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks.

How to Spot the Difference Between the Common Cold and Allergies

Symptoms of both ailments are similar. But there are a few that differ.

Symptom: Itching
Likely cause: Allergies. A cold will not usually cause itching. But itchy eyes, ears, nose and mouth can be a big problem with allergies.

Symptom: Thick, discolored nasal discharge
Likely cause: Cold. With allergies, nasal discharge is usually clear and watery.

Symptom: Fever
Likely cause: Cold. Allergies do not cause fever. An infection like a cold can.

Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms, or if you aren’t sure which ailment you have. Some medicines can help treat your cold or allergy symptoms, but be careful with drug interactions. For example, decongestants can increase blood pressure or interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed blood pressure medications. Ask your doctor or local pharmacist to check for interactions before adding any new medication to your current drug therapy.

And don’t forget that one of the best treatments for a cold is usually rest.

Talk to your local Rite Aid Pharmacist about your symptoms and find a treatment that’s right for you.

Breathe Easier


“Allergic Rhinitis: Causes & Risk Factors.” American Academy of Family Physicians.

“Allergies.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Common Cold – Overview.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

“Common Cold – Treatment.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

“Is It Allergies or a Cold? How to Tell the Difference.” American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Over-the-Counter Medications,” American Heart Association,

Pollen Allergy. National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

“Rhinitis (Hay Fever): Tips to Remember.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.