5 Ways You Can Tell the Difference Between Allergies or a Cold

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From a runny nose to feeling fatigued, the symptoms of allergies can be frustratingly similar to those of a cold – so how do know how you should try and recuperate?

If you find yourself sidelined and under the weather, here are a few fool-proof ways to figure out if you’re allergies are flaring up or if you’ve caught a common cold.

Skin Rash: Allergies

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Can’t seem to scratch that itch away? This is a tell-tale sign of an allergic reaction.

According to Arizona-based allergist Amy Shah, “Itchy eyes, nose, ear, or throat are associated with allergies because of the compound histamine, which is what the body releases when allergy cells are activated and cause an itch.”

If you have a cold, this wouldn’t be a typical symptom. You may need to utilize topical creams or medication to help alleviate that persistent itch.

Sore Throat: Cold

Waking up with a sore throat is just a bad start to the day. Even mouth-breathers know the difference between a bad night’s sleep and the early warning signs of sickness.

A sore throat signals an oncoming cold (or one that has already arrived to the party) and can be pesky to deal with. According to Dr. Ian Tong, the chief medical officer at Doctor On Demand, “Colds are viruses that affect the upper airway. The virus can spread to the entire respiratory system including the throat, causing soreness.”

You can treat a sore throat with different home remedies, including tea and honey. Just don’t expect to join in on Friday night karaoke this week.

Fever: Cold


While some symptoms of an allergic reaction can mirror those of a cold, having a fever is not one of them. If you start to feel overheated, it means you’ve caught a cold or some other illness.

According to Dr. Matthew Mintz, “When you contract a viral infection, one of the primary ways the body helps to fight the infection is by increasing the body’s temperature to kill the virus.”

Watery Eyes: Allergies

If you’re constantly dealing with itchy and watery eyes, your allergies are the likely culprit. Dr. Shah recommends that you rinse your eyes with water and use allergy drops to keep your eyes clear.

Green Snot: Cold


Blow your nose and check what just came out (gross, I know). If you find Hulk-like green snot, you may have a cold. According to Dr. Mintz, “In general, the nasal discharge in allergies is clear and watery. While a cold can also cause clear nasal discharge, it can often become yellow or even green.”

No matter what you’ve got going on, best stock up on tissues, my friends.