If you or someone in your family seems to get a bad cold at the same time each year, it could be seasonal allergies. While allergies and colds can present similar symptoms, it is possible to tell them apart.
A cold is caused by a virus, while allergy symptoms surface when the immune system overreacts to an allergen like ragweed. Seasonal allergies cannot be passed from person to person, and they usually last for weeks; a cold can be passed on to someone else, and colds usually last a few days to a couple of weeks.
Dr. Vincent Iannelli points out at about.com: “Although the runny nose from a cold will start off being clear, it often turns yellow or green after 3-5 days, while children with allergies will continue to have just a clear runny nose.”
Below is a chart from the Mayo Clinic that summarizes some other differences (and similarities) between allergies and colds:
|A Cold or Allergies?|
|General aches and pains||Sometimes||Never|
See Ragweed Season – Allergy Relief Tips to learn how to avoid this powerful autumn allergen using environmental control measures.