Sometimes, it’s a battle to know whether that sniffly nose is thanks to a cold or allergy. Should you be resting up with a mug of lemon and honey or heading to the chemist for some antihistamines?

Here are five questions to help you assess your symptoms.

1. Do you have itchy, watery eyes?

Itchy eyes are a typical allergy symptom. Your eyes may tear up with a cold, but it’s less common to feel the itchiness you would with an allergy.

If you can’t stop rubbing your eyes and they won’t stop watering, it could well be an allergic reaction.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

2. How long have the symptoms lasted?

Common colds tend to stick around for one to two weeks. After a week or so, you should start to feel a little better than you did during the first few days.

Allergies will persist for as long as the allergens are in your environment. That’s why many people sniffle during spring when there’s plenty of pollen in the air.

If you’re still sneezing and sniffling after more than two weeks, and your usual cold and flu remedies don’t make a difference, it could be an allergy.

3. Do you have a fever?

A fever is a common symptom of colds (and flus). Body temperature often rises when battling an infection.

Infections don’t cause allergies (allergens do), so your body temperature should remain relatively stable. If you have a fever, it’s most probably a cold, not an allergy.

4. Do you have other allergies or relatives with allergies?

If you have other allergies – or you’re related to someone with allergies – you might be more susceptible to seasonal allergies during spring and early summer.

Do a quick family survey and see if you’re alone in your symptoms or have sniffly company.

5. Are rest and fluids helping?

When you feel unwell, you’ll probably take some time out to recover. This usually means a few days propped on the couch with a box of tissues, plenty of fluids, and something binge-worthy on TV.

If you’re suffering from an allergy, rest and fluids might make you feel more comfortable, but they won’t ‘treat’ the problem. If you’re still sneezing after decent rest, it might be an allergy.

Still not sure?

If in doubt, pay a visit to your local GP, who can help you determine the cause of those sniffles and sneezes. There are products that can help relieve symptoms of both colds and allergies all-year round – speak to your pharmacist about what might be right for you.

Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.

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