Oh allergy season, how we loathe you. Between the stuffed-up noses, the itchy, watery eyes and the runny noses that always (always, always!) hit right before a meeting or during a dinner out, there seems to be no other way to deal with it other than a daily regimen of pills or a few herbal remedies.
But what if we aren’t completely sure if it’s an allergy or just a plain old cold? Luckily, we’ve rounded up a few fail-proof methods to determine which one you’re still suffering from. Still in doubt? See your doc, pronto.
1. Quickly check — what colour is your snot?
No, we’re not being gross. This is a very valid question — not only for determining if you have a cold, but also for your general health. Clear and runny? Sounds like allergies to us. Yellow or green? You could have a cold, my friend. Here’s a handy diagram from the University of Utah Health Care for further info.
2. Do you have other symptoms?
Itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing could go either way. It’s when those symptoms become worse over a prolonged period of time that you’re going to want to take them a little more seriously. And if hot lemon water with honey and cold & sinus meds are cutting it, you should probably go to the walk-in clinic if you’re concerned.
3. Have you been complaining for like, a really, really long time about being sick?
The average cold lasts three to fourteen days. Allergies? Well they last a heck of a lot longer, to the point where it almost feels like forever. If you suffer for an inordinate amount of time, it could mean you’re actually dealing with allergies.
4. Do you feel a little…creakier?
Allergies cause you grief and they can make you want to stick your head into a freezer, but they don’t tend to cause physical pain the way colds do. If you’ve got general aches and pains, maybe you’ve also got a cold, dearie. On the plus side, that could also be your excuse to take a weekend off and binge-watch TV with some “feel better” snacks.
5. Are you burning up inside?
No seriously, are you? Check your temperature, because colds can sometimes provoke a fever, whereas allergies do not. And no, being flushed from a quick walk in the incoming summer heat doesn’t count.
6. Are you coughing?
Just in case you were wondering, allergies very rarely cause coughing fits. Colds, however, do.
7. When all else fails, look at the calendar
The allergy season can be a long and arduous one, depending on what you’re actually allergic to. Then of course you have to figure out all of the things you need to avoid, as listed in the handy infographic below from the good people at Health Central. Still feeling sick? Maybe you do have a cold after all.