Sore Throat: Allergies or a Cold?

A closeup image of a male doctor in a white jacket and gloves examining the throat of a female patient using a tongue suppressor and head lamp.

The colder months are the most common time to develop a cold. They are also the culprit for seasonal allergies with the changes in weather and greenery.  

Common colds and seasonal allergies often have similar symptoms, leaving us to wonder what we are experiencing, especially if our symptoms align with both illnesses.

Annually, over a billion people in America are estimated to have a cold, while seasonal allergies affect as many as 60 million people. 

One of the most common complaints during this time of year is a sore throat.

While many are mild, some can cause extreme and debilitating pain, making it hard to eat and swallow.

If you have a sore throat, knowing if it’s tied to allergies or a cold is crucial to your treatment plan.

Let’s explore sore throats in more detail, including whether they are caused by a cold, allergies, or something else. 

What Is a Cold?

The common cold is a viral infection that affects your upper respiratory tract.

For many, one of the first symptoms of a common cold is a scratchy or sore throat followed by nasal congestion or runny nose. 

A common cold can be caused by various types of viruses and is considered harmless for most people. With a cold, symptoms, like a sore throat, should resolve within 2 weeks.

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are your immune system’s overreaction to exposure to a specific allergen. They can be triggered seasonally or occur year-round. 

The most common allergens include pollen, ragweed, mold, and pet dander. 

Is My Sore Throat Caused by Allergies or a Cold?

The short answer is that it depends. There is not one specific answer. A sore throat can be a cause of the common cold, allergies, or both together. 

A sore throat is typically caused by one of two things:

  1. Irritation of the throat lining
  2. Bacterial or viral infections 

Determining the underlying cause of your sore throat is essential to decide on the proper treatment you need, especially if you have strep throat that requires medical intervention and proper antibiotics for healing.

Although allergies can cause an irritated throat, in most cases, a sore throat is often the first sign of a cold. 

In fact, for most, a sore throat is caused by a cold, the flu, COVID-19, or an infection of the throat directly, such as strep throat.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a sore throat, we encourage you to visit your doctor or local urgent care facility for further evaluation and treatment.

A Comparison of Cold and Allergy Symptoms

It is important to remember that a sore throat can be a symptom of a cold or allergies.

Symptoms of the common cold and allergies are pretty similar, but there are differences that you should be aware of. 

Recognizing the symptoms accompanying your sore throat can help you better determine the direct cause of your throat pain.

Explore the list below to understand symptom differences. 

Aches and PainsSometimesNever
Fatigue SometimesSometimes
Itchy, watery eyesRarelyUsually
Runny NoseUsuallyUsually
Stuffy NoseUsuallyUsually

Complete Sore Throat Care in Southaven, MS

Most sore throats can be treated at home, especially if the common cold or allergies cause them, but we recommend visiting our urgent care facility if

  • Your symptoms last longer than a week and worsen over time
  • Over-the-counter medication isn’t helping with pain
  • You have other underlying health conditions or a compromised immune system
  • Your symptoms are severe and life-threatening, such as difficulty breathing
  • The medication you’re taking to relieve your throat pain is causing adverse side effects

Visit Getwell Urgent Care today to have your sore throat examined and receive the proper diagnosis and treatment plan personalized for you.

Appointments can be made ahead of time online, but we welcome walk-ins seven days a week. Come in today to get the sore throat care you need now.