The two conditions are easier to confuse than people think, especially for adults who never experienced allergy symptoms before.
We compiled a checklist so you can easily tell the difference:
Have your symptoms been going on for more than two weeks?
A common cold usually goes away within a week or two. A seasonal allergy is a chronic condition that will bother you for as long as you are exposed to your allergen. If it is pollen, allergy season can last up to several months depending on what you are allergic to.
Is it winter?
Seasonal allergies rarely show up in winter, but colds do. Indoor allergies can occur at any time of the year – think of house dust mites, pet fur, and mold for example.
Is your skin itching?
Itchy skin, as well as itchy eyes, mouth, nose, and throat are all indicators of an allergy. Skin symptoms often occur in line with other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, wheezing, and a runny or blocked nose.
Is your mucus clear?
If you sneeze and your nasal discharge is on the yellowish green side, it is usually related to an infection like the common cold. If your mucus is clear, your runny nose is most likely caused by an allergy.
Do your symptoms change based on your location?
Allergy symptoms are closely connected to exposure to an allergen, for example pollen. If you sneeze a lot outside, but it gets better when you come home, change your clothes and take a shower, you are probably allergic.
Do your symptoms follow a pattern?
You catch a cold every year around the second week of April? Then it probably is not a cold, but a seasonal allergy. Allergy symptoms follow patterns caused by outdoor pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds, and they occur every year at the same time in a given area.