Is it a cold or is it allergies? How to tell the difference

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(Source: CNN) (Source: CNN)

Allergy season is here, and not only does it mean sneezing, sniffling and red eyes, it also means questions about symptoms.

Each spring, Arizonans are hit hard with reactions to seasonal allergies that are commonly confused with the symptoms of the common cold.

Dr. Jake Anderson, a family medicine specialist at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, says the symptoms of an allergic reaction and a cold are similar, but require a different response for a cure.

Anderson says the symptoms of an allergic reaction typically can begin rapidly, and in some cases instantly.

[RELATED: Allergy season has arrived in southern AZ, pollen counts on the rise]

A person allergic to a dog dander could begin reacting within minutes of coming into the animal, and may only stop after the person and dog are no longer near each other.

The itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose and persistent sneezing, are usual symptoms of an allergic reaction. The annoying allergy symptoms can be combated with allergy medicine like Zyrtec or Claritin, but may continue if the trigger, such as pollen, ragweed or pets are nearby.

[RELATED: Got allergies? Our warm, dry weather in Phoenix could be making it worse]

Anderson says the common cold typically lasts longer and doesn’t just go away on its own. The best way to combat the common cold is to get rest and take some medicine.

An achy body, high fever, hard cough, and runny nose are the usual symptoms of a cold and could last between seven and 10 days. Anderson says over-the-counter medicines typically will work as a cure.   

In short, if the symptoms show up quickly and end quickly, especially at the same time every year, it’s likely your allergies. If the symptoms last for multiple days, you likely have a cold.

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