Cold or Allergy Symptoms: What’s the Difference?

This post was sponsored by the makers of REACTINE®. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

My boyfriend seems to get a runny nose at the same time every year.  We get our first wonderful rays of sunshine in Vancouver, warmer days where you can go outside without a jacket, and brightly coloured flowers and cherry blossoms start to line the city streets. Then suddenly, without warning, his sniffles arrive.

I used to think he was the victim of an annual cold.  But now, I realize it’s probably just allergies.

So how do you know if you have a cold or if it’s allergies?  At times, it’s easy to confuse the two but it’s important to know what you have so you can get the best relief for your symptoms.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Did your symptoms develop suddenly?

If you are hit with sudden symptoms, like itchy eyes when you go outside, or a runny nose after petting your friend’s dog, it’s most likely allergies.  Cold symptoms usually take a few days to develop whereas allergies can develop almost immediately from exposure to one of your triggers – whether it’s pollen or pets.

What time of year is it?

Colds can happen any time, but more likely in winter.  Allergies more often occur the rest of the year – spring, summer, and fall.  Do your symptoms occur at the same time each year like how my boyfriend’s do in the Spring?  You probably have seasonal allergies.

Are you sore and achy?

Allergies don’t tend to cause a sore body.  If you feel run-down and achy, you are most likely suffering from a cold or the flu.

Do you have a runny or a congested nose?

This is a tough one, because this symptom could be the result of either a cold or allergies.  One way to check…is to look at your snot. Yes, it sounds gross, but the reality is, if you have thick, cloudy or yellow nasal discharge, it’s probably a cold.  A runny nose from allergies is typically clear.

Hot or not?

Check your temperature.  If you have a fever, it’s probably a cold, not allergies.

If you’ve arrived at the conclusion that you have allergies, not a cold, be sure to keep a box of REACTINE® handy for quick acting and non-drowsy relief from your allergy symptoms.  For more information about how REACTINE® can help you manage your allergy symptoms, visit



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