Seasonal Allergies vs. Cold: How To Tell The Difference

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Seasonal Allergies vs. Cold Symptoms

Determining if your runny nose or sneezing are caused by seasonal allergies or a common cold can be a tricky task. Not only are both allergy and cold symptoms extremely similar, but they often occur at similar times of the year. 

So, which is it? We’re here to provide clarity on seasonal allergies vs. cold in hopes of helping you find the relief you deserve. Let’s begin by first discussing seasonal allergies.

What causes seasonal allergies? 

First, it’s important to understand what causes allergies. Seasonal allergies are caused by exposure to a certain triggering allergen or allergens found during that particular time of the year. In its essence, the allergy symptoms you experience are simply responses from your immune system. This means that when your immune system comes into contact with a foreign particle it finds harmful, it goes into defense mode and tries to fight it off, causing the sniffling and sneezing

People dealing with seasonal allergies are most commonly affected by different types of plant pollen in the spring, summer, or fall. In the spring, tree pollen is the most common culprit, while in the summer it’s grass. During the autumn months, allergy sufferers may experience allergies due to exposure to ragweeds. 

However, when your symptoms are at their peak will depend on where you live, as well as the weather in that area. For example, people who live in the south will most likely experience their symptoms sooner than others since the weather begins to warm there earlier in the year. 

If you happen to suffer from allergy symptoms in the winter months, you may have perennial allergies. They are typically caused by molds, pet dander or dust. Perennial allergy sufferers tend to notice their symptoms more often in the winter months because they spend more time indoors. Because these allergens can be found inside your home, perennial allergies can flare up at any time of the year. 

What causes a common cold?

A cold is caused by a virus that enters the body, through your eyes, nose or mouth. There are over 200 different types of viruses that can cause the common cold. As your immune system tries to fight off the virus, you may experience bothersome symptoms as a result.

Seasonal allergies vs. cold symptoms

The symptoms that you experience from a cold and seasonal allergy symptoms are quite similar. Below shows a list of both seasonal allergy and cold symptoms. 

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms: 

  • Itchy skin 
  • Red or itchy eyes 
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose 
  • Headaches 
  • Sneezing 
  • Sinus Congestion 
  • Coughing or wheezing

Cold Symptoms:

  • Runny nose 
  • Sneezing 
  • Sore throat 
  • Cough 
  • Fatigue

The main way to distinguish between seasonal allergies vs. cold is the duration of the symptoms. When you are suffering from a cold, the symptoms typically clear up in seven to 10 days. On the other hand, if you have seasonal allergies, symptoms can last for several weeks, if not longer. 

How to Treat Seasonal Allergies 

Treatment for seasonal allergies comes in a number of different forms. Each target specific symptoms and can provide relief from the irritating allergy symptoms, right from home. If your symptoms persist, even after trying many treatment options, it may be time to talk to an allergist.

Antihistamines are one of the most common forms of treatment for allergies. When taken, they block your body from releasing a chemical called histamine, which is responsible for the allergy symptoms you experience when you have allergies. By taking this medication, you prevent your immune system from being alerted, avoiding the irritating symptoms altogether. 

Another form of treatment that targets nasal symptoms are decongestants. They help reduce inflammation of blood vessels in the nose and open up the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. Also, nasal rinses with a saline solution can help to clear out your nasal passages. They reduce nasal congestion, making it easier to breathe. 

You can use eye drops to treat and manage eye symptoms. They reduce the itchiness and redness, as well as keep your eyes hydrated.

A natural way to treat seasonal allergies is to use essential oils. Diffusing lemon, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils can reduce inflammation and reduce congestion. You can even use a few drops in a hot bath to take advantage of both the steam and the oils effects.

If you want to try and naturally expose your body to allergens, include local honey in your diet. When bees in your area pollinate the plants in your environment, some of the pollen makes its way into the honey that they produce. As you consume the honey, your body starts to become desensitized to the allergens. Over time it can help reduce symptoms. This specific process is known as immunotherapy.

How to Treat a Common Cold

While there is no cure for the cold, there are a number of things you can do to relieve your symptoms. When you have a cold, staying properly hydrated is important and can help you get over the cold faster. Sip on warm liquids, such as tea or soup. 

In order to alleviate a sore throat, you can do salt water gargles. All you need to do is dissolve about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle the solution as needed. Sore throat sprays and hard candy can also provide relief. 

There are over-the-counter cold medicines available that can help combat nasal congestion and act as a pain reliever. When you treat a cold, it is crucial that you give your body time to rest and recover. 

ShotFree Allergy: Your Solution to Seasonal Allergy Symptoms


Immunotherapy is a unique treatment option that may help alter a person’s immune system over time. During treatment, an allergy sufferer is exposed to small amounts of a triggering allergen via allergy shots or drops. The goal is to desensitize the immune system and reduce the severity of the allergic reaction when a person is exposed to the allergen naturally. 

Traditionally, immunotherapy requires frequent doctor visits to get shots by a healthcare professional. Today, there is a much simpler option: transdermal immunotherapy. 

Transdermal immunotherapy is the latest in allergy medicine. The treatment still exposes the immune system to triggering allergens, but now it does so in a natural, safe way. Through the skin. All you have to do is apply Transdermal Allergy Cream onto your forearm and leave it on for about 15 minutes. After this short period of time, the allergens will be absorbed into the lymphatic system, where your immune system operates. Over time, your body will become desensitized to the allergens and reduce your allergy symptoms. 

Are you still not sure if its seasonal allergies vs. cold? At ShotFree Allergy, we can put you in contact with a specialist who can help you determine if you're suffering from seasonal allergies, and if transdermal immunotherapy is a possible form of treatment for you. Set up an online consultation to discuss your symptoms in detail and start feeling relief. 


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