As the weather gets warmer and we spend more time outside, it can be hard to tell what exactly is causing our sniffles. Though it could very possibly be a springtime reaction to all the pollen floating around, it could be a cold or even the flu. If you want to treat your runny nose quickly you’ll need to know how to determine if it’s allergies or something more.

Allergies tend to develop quickly after exposure to triggers. They can happen anytime in the year, but during the warming and cooling seasons of fall and spring, many people find themselves rushing to the store for more tissue boxes. Allergies can also last for a long time. As long as exposure continues without treatment, you will continue to suffer the reactions. Some other symptoms of allergies are a cough, fatigue, itchy or watery eyes, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose.

Colds start within a few days of exposure to a virus. They occur most often in the winter, but can happen at any time, especially when your body is exposed to new environments (new workplace or school for example). Colds last for a few days or a few weeks, but don’t tend to persist as long as allergies. It is also important to note that though colds and allergies share many symptoms, colds can also involve fevers and aches, which are not symptoms of allergies.

The flu can develop much like a cold or allergies, with symptoms appearing within a few days, but the incubation period can last for up to a week. One important difference to note when determining if it’s a cold or the flu is that flu symptoms will hit hard fast. This includes aches, pains, weakness or fatigue, watery eyes, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, trouble breathing, chest pressure, confusion, or even severe vomiting.

The best way to treat any possible illness is to see a medical professional. So take a day off and try not to infect anyone else, stay hydrated, get some rest, and schedule an appointment to figure out what treatments will be best for you.