20% of the population deal with seasonal allergies every year. While the majority of the population is welcoming spring by sitting out on the deck, and relishing in the warmer temperatures allergy sufferers are still hiding indoors in an effort to ward off the sneezing fits brought on by the season’s new growth.

At this time of year any sign of sniffling, sneezing and coughing has allergy sufferers running for their favourite 24 hour antihistamine in hopes to make it through the day as normally as possible. But wait, is it really your allergies flaring up or are you suffering from a common cold or flu?

It is important to know and recognize the difference because while allergy sufferers can go about their business as usual, if you’re suffering from a common cold you’ll want to take care of yourself and prevent the illness from getting worse and spreading to others.

Allergies to Colds are like Apples to Oranges

There are a lot of overlapping symptoms which can make it difficult to identify what you are suffering from. There are a few allergy related symptoms that you will not get with a cold, mainly itchy, watery eyes, mouth and throat. The other sure sign that your symptoms are allergy related is the length of time your symptoms last. Cold and Flu symptoms are generally gone within ten days, while allergy symptoms can last months.

Another sure fire way to tell the difference between the two is by checking the colour of your mucus. Yes we know it’s gross, but its part of the way that your body deals with infections. Thick yellow mucus usually accompanies a cold while thin, watery, white mucus is part of the allergy mix.

Allergy Symptoms versus Cold Symptoms

The Common Cold:

  • Common: Cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Sometimes: Fatigue, aches/pains
  • Rarely: Fever, itchy eyes


  • Common: Itchy eyes, runny/stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Sometimes: Cough, sore throat, fatigue
  • Never: Fever, aches/pains

Figuring out if you are suffering from allergies or a common cold is only half the battle. Proper treatment and taking care of yourself is the rest. If you have a cold, get plenty of rest and fluids and check out our article, Dealing with the Flu or a Cold on the Road. If it’s allergies, take your allergy medication and do your best to avoid contact with allergens. Check out our article, Truck Drivers with Allergies: Things you Need to Know including which medications you can’t take while driving.

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