With spring just around the corner, it's worth again distinguishing the difference between colds and allergies. While both can produce many of the same symptoms: a runny nose, tiredness, and sometimes a sore throat, the causes of each are different. Colds are caused by viruses, whereas allergies are caused by an immune system response to trigger substances, known as allergens.
There are a few ways you can tell if you have a cold or allergies:
Colds sometimes produce a fever, but allergies never do. Allergies can also produce itchy, watery eyes, which don't typically accompany a cold. The biggest way to tell, however, is the duration of the symptoms. Cold symptoms rarely last more than two weeks, but allergies can last as long as you are exposed to the substance that is triggering the reaction. Many people with seasonal allergies will experience symptoms for six weeks at a time.
The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release these tiny grains into the air to fertilise other plants. Other common allergens are dust mites, mold and pet dander. Allergic reactions to these allergens are often worse in winter as your heating system can recirculate the allergen when your house is sealed up and fresh air isn't getting in. If your symptoms persist for a long time in any season, it may be worth it to visit an allergist!
(Source: Harvard Health Publishing)