Beyond Sneezing: Lesser Known Signs of Allergies

During cold and flu season, it can be hard to tell if you’re getting sick or dealing with seasonal allergies, which can cause a number of symptoms that mimic cold and flu symptoms. 

You might think allergies just cause sneezing, which is indeed among the most common allergy symptoms. This is because allergic triggers like dust, pollen, and dander can irritate your sensitive mucous membranes inside your nose, and you sneeze as a way to flush them out. 

To help you tell illnesses and allergies apart, our team at NY Family Docs has put together this guide to other common allergy symptoms. With 10 offices in Brooklyn and Queens, New York City, it’s easy to find a provider near you who can help you get in control of your allergies. 

Stuffy nose

While nasal congestion is often associated with colds, you might be surprised to know that allergies could be behind it instead. Allergies can irritate sensitive nasal lining, causing a stuffy or runny nose. 

Rather than suffer, you may be able to take allergy medications such as decongestants that can quickly soothe the lining of your nose and reduce congestion. 

Itchy eyes and excess tears

Itchy, irritated eyes tend to water as a response to irritants in the air like pollen, dust, and pollution. This can lead to you rub your eyes, which can actually make your symptoms worse. Allergy eye drops can treat your symptoms at the source. 

Feeling run-down 

Allergies can also cause you to feel run-down and unwell, similar to when you have a cold or flu. However, you’re unlikely to develop a fever, digestive problems, or severe aches and pains with most seasonal allergies. 

Dry coughs

Coughing is a common symptom that can be caused by allergies, a cold, or the flu. While having a cold or flu often causes coughing as your body fights a virus, allergies usually cause coughs because they increase mucus production and postnasal drip.


While a cold or the flu is more likely to cause exhaustion, allergies can also leave you worn out. This is especially common if you suffer from hay fever. Taking over-the-counter allergy meds can help you feel better. 

Hives, itching, or swelling 

Hives are raised, itchy welts that are often part of an allergic response, either due to ingesting an irritant or making skin contact with one. Sometimes, allergies can also leave you feeling itchy in general, or cause swelling of a body part such as your lips, hands, or face. 

If you suddenly notice swelling in your face, eyes, or throat, it might be a sign of a severe allergic response and might require immediate attention. Similarly, if your allergies are making it hard to breathe, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. 

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you might be wondering whether it’s a sign of allergies, a cold, or the flu. 

The best way to know for sure is to come in for a consultation with one of our trained providers at NY Family Docs. To find out more, call any of our 10 convenient locations around New York City or send us a message online. 

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