Spring Allergies or a Cold? How to Know the Difference


With everything blooming here in the northeast, the sounds of people sneezing are as common as the sounds of the birds chirping.  For allergy sufferers spring often equates to misery season. Is it spring allergies or a cold?

Distinguishing between allergies and a cold can also, on top of being annoying, be confusing. Symptoms often overlap and mimic each other, making it difficult to know whether you’re suffering from spring allergies or a common cold. It’s important to be able to know what you are suffering from so that you can treat your symptoms appropriately.

Spring allergies or a cold?

Symptoms can be confusing. Here are some guidelines:

  • Duration: The average cold  does not usually last as long as allergies can. The spring-allergies-or-a-cold-afc-urgent-care-new-britaintypical cold will last between 5 -10 days;  allergies, on the other hand,  if not treated early on,  will often go on for weeks and sometimes even months.
  • Typically allergy symptoms include red, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, rapid sneezing clear mucus, and  may sometimes trigger asthma attacks.
  • Colds, on the other hand, often include most allergy symptoms above, although eyes don’t typically itch, but can also include a low grade fever, a hacking cough, muscle aches and chills and mucus is usually thick and yellow.

How to best control allergies:

Allergies do not have to rule your life. Here are some preventative steps you can take to if not completely ward off, at least lessen allergy symptoms during the high pollen and mold season:

  • When driving, use the air conditioner to filter pollen rather than opening windows
  • If you have one, use an air conditioner when indoors rather than opening doors or windows or using a fan, which will only serve to draw in allergens
  • When possible, stay indoors on high pollen count days
  • This may sound extreme but for people who suffer yearly this tip is taken seriously: Get rid of the carpet! For those highly allergic, carpeting can trap all sorts of allergens. Hardwood or laminate floors will help those suffering from chronic seasonal allergies.
  • Take frequent showers, at least when coming in from outdoors
  • Leave shoes outdoors
  • Vacuum frequently
  • Your pets can bring allergens indoors on their coats, especially if they are long haired. During high allergy season, try to avoid having them roll around in high grasses, and shampoo as often as possible when re-entering the house

Treating allergies:

The best treatment are the preventative measures, cited above.

You can also pre-treat! Over the counter nasal sprays such as Nasonex or Zyrtec often work, especially if administered a few weeks prior to allergy season, or drugs such as Clariton, Allegra or Benadryl can often do the trick.

See an allergist if you suffer chronically. They can often target the allergen and administer allergy shots for relief.

The bottom line is that if you, like many of us, suffer from allergies or a cold, there is relief.