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If you’ve noticed the drop in temperature has sharply resulted in you feeling under the weather, have you considered that it might be winter allergies rather than you developing a cold? We’re all used to seeing someone with allergy-induced watery eyes or sneezes around springtime, but most of us would associate these symptoms with a cold in the winter, rather than allergies.

Winter allergies aren’t necessarily due to there being exclusive winter allergens around but are more likely caused by the increase in exposure to allergens, in higher quantities. Because we tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, coupled with the fact that there’s usually less ventilation to keep the heat in, means that we’re all exposed to much more dust and animal dander than the rest of the year.

The trouble is that symptoms of winter allergies are very similar to those of the common cold. So how do we know the difference? Am I experiencing a short-lived cold, or is it allergies?

winter allergies infographic to help determine whether you have seasonal allergies or a cold

Itchy Eyes

Allergies cause your body to release histamines, which can cause itchy or watery eyes, which is rare in a regular cold. If your eyes are itchy, it’s more likely to be an allergic reaction than a cold. If your symptoms dissipate after popping an antihistamine, that’s a fairly clear sign that you’re dealing with seasonal allergies.

A Fever

A fever is never caused by an allergic reaction but is often part of the package of the common cold. If your temperature has skyrocketed, it’s likely you’ve caught one of the colds going around and should get some rest.

Sudden Symptoms

Symptoms of an allergic reaction tend to come on pretty suddenly. So if it seemed almost immediate, then you’re likely experiencing winter allergies. On the other hand, if they start with you feeling a bit tired and later developed into stronger symptoms, that’s far more characteristic of a cold. Symptoms of a cold will usually subside after one or two weeks, but winter allergies will probably stay throughout the winter.

Is it Cold or Winter Allergies?

The best way to be certain whether you’re experiencing allergies or a cold is with an allergy test. If you’re unsure even after going through the three indicators above, you can have an allergy test to get a definitive answer.