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It’s often hard to tell the difference between a cold and allergies. Both can cause similar symptoms, such as a runny and/or stuffy nose, sneezing, fatigue, and a sore throat. However, there are some differences that might help you tell if it’s allergies vs. a cold.

Simply put, colds are infections caused by viruses. Colds can be contagious up to two days before symptoms start and can last two weeks after exposure to the virus. Allergies, on the other hand, are not contagious, and the symptoms you experience are your immune system's reaction to allergens, such as pollen.

Take our simple allergies vs. cold quiz to learn the differences between cold and common allergy symptoms.

  • Cold bacteria iconWoman sneezing iconAllergies vs. Cold Quiz Can’t tell if you have a cold or allergies? Find out which one you might have to help get relief. Take this quiz, and muddle no more!
  • Runny nose iconNose with smile iconDo you have a runny nose?
  • YES A thin, clear discharge is most likely a sign of allergies.
  • NO The most common symptom of both allergies and a cold is a stuffy and/or runny nose.
  • Thermometer with low temperatureThermometer with high temperature indicating feverDo you have a fever?
  • NO Allergies don’t usually cause a fever.
  • YESOne symptom of a cold can be a low-grade fever.
  • Face with content expressionFace with painful experessionDo you have aches and pains?
  • no Allergies are not usually accompanied by an aching body.
  • yes An aching body typically means that you have a cold vs. allergies.
  • Hopping bunny iconSlow turtle iconDid your symptoms develop fast or slow?
  • FastAllergy symptoms typically flare up as soon as you come into contact with an allergen.
  • Slow Cold symptoms have a gradual onset and might take several days to develop.
  • Smiling warm sun iconSnowflake iconIs the weather warm or chilly?
  • Warm Allergies are more common during the warmer months, when the air is filled with pollen.
  • Chilly Colds are more likely to develop in winter.
  • Cat and dog with pet dander iconGrass, ragweed and pollen iconWhat to Do If You Think You Have Allergies See a physician for a professional diagnosis and treatment options. To help find powerful allergy relief, learn more about the ZYRTEC® family of products. Then download the ZYRTEC® ALLERGYCAST® app* to get a daily pollen forecast and track your allergy symptoms. * Standard data rates for your plan apply.

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