Crisp fall temperatures combined with a case of the sniffles might lead some to think they're getting a cold. But those same symptoms also could point to an allergy.

“It’s hard in some situations to tell the difference,” said Patient First physician’s assistant Paul Schubert. “They mimic each other.”

Patient First operates 67 urgent care centers across the mid-Atlantic, including one in Springettsbury Township.

A runny nose or itchy eyes can be either the common cold or the start of a terrible allergy season, but while the symptoms can be similar, Schubert said there are some major differences.

Do you have a fever? Have your allergy symptoms lasted longer than a week? Both of those are symptoms of a cold but not an allergy.

Also, while viruses cause a cold, allergies are caused by a person coming into direct contact with allergens in the environment — things such as ragweed or mold — that can cause an allergic reaction in that person.

“When it comes to allergies, the best thing to do is avoidance,” Schubert said. “If it’s being outside because of ragweed, stay inside. If it’s mold, don’t go out on rainy days.”

If you suspect a cold, Schubert said the best thing you can do is to wait out your symptoms. Both cold and allergy symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter decongestants.

“We have people come in with colds, and it’s almost a waste of money," Schubert said. "Give it a few days, and don’t take any leftover antibiotics you may have at home.”

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