Allergies vs. Cold: Understand the Difference

Know the difference between an allergy and a cold.

A woman standing next to a window enjoying a drink out of a mug.

Seasonal allergies and the common cold can be so much alike that it's sometimes hard to tell the two apart. But look closely and you can find clues about what's going on.1

In this page you will find information about

Compare your symptoms
Think about how quickly you experienced symptoms
Consider how long you’ve had symptoms.
Telfast® is here to help

Start by comparing the most obvious symptoms.

Common allergy symptoms2

  Runny/itchy nose

  Itchy, watery eyes



  Nasal congestion

​​​​​​​  Hives (a rash with raised red patches).

Common cold symptoms3

​​​​​​​  ​​​​​​​headache,

​​​​​​​  sneezing,

​​​​​​​  chilliness

​​​​​​​  sore throat

​​​​​​​  nasal discharge

​​​​​​​  nasal obstruction

​​​​​​​  ​​​​​​​cough

​​​​​​​  malaise

Although they can present as similar, it's useful to note the differences between allergy and cold symptoms.

For instance, itchy, watery eyes or itchy nose or throat are typical allergy symptoms.2 while coughing, malaise, chilliness, and fever usually signal a cold.3​​​​​​​

Think about how quickly you experienced symptoms and how persistent they are.

Histamine is a chemical released by mast cells of the immune system when the body encounters an allergen. This causes an allergic reaction.4

The common cold syndrome has been defined in terms of experimental colds as a short mild illness with early symptoms and later symptoms.3

Consider how long you’ve had symptoms.

Allergies are an immune system response that occurs because of exposure to allergens like pollen, dust, or pet.5

In some people, substances such as pollen, certain foods, latex, mold, pet dander, dust mites or insect stings are allergens that trigger the production of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine, causing symptoms in the nose, throat, eye, sinuses, ears.5

In turn, colds are caused by viruses, and symptoms generally last 5 to 7 days although some may last as long as two or three weeks.6

Take an even closer look at specific symptoms6

General aches and pain

Probably a cold, not allergies.6


Probably a cold, not allergies.6

Itchy eyes

Rarely with cold, usually with allergies.6

Notice the color of your mucus

Clear and watery mucus is most likely due to allergies.7

If it’s thick and white color, it’s probably a cold.7

If you experience prolonged symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare professional or allergist to ensure the right diagnosis.

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Telfast® is here to help.

Telfast® can help you to relief allergy symptoms. It’s nonsedating antihistamine that gives you 24 hours, relief from indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms.8

If you experience sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, or an itchy nose or throat, Telfast® can help.8

For nasal congestion, swelling of nasal passages, and other allergy symptoms, try Telfast-Decongestant®.9

Find the Telfast® product that’s suitable for you.

Recommended Reading:

Telfast is not indicated to relieve coughing, post-nasal drip, hives or rash, skin irritation, red eyes, or fatigue.
Telfast is indicated to relieve sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes or an itchy nose or throat. Telfast-Decongestant is indicated to relieve sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, itchy nose or throat, nasal congestion.

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