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Is it Hay Fever or the Common Cold? How to Tell the Difference

hay feverFall is here, and we’re hoping you have countless trips to the pumpkin patch, enjoy bumpy hay rides, and navigate through corn mazes. One element of fall that most people don’t account for is hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis). Contrast to what the name suggests, you don’t develop symptoms due to hay. Actually, hay fever and the common cold have similar symptoms, and that’s why they’re often mistaken for each other! Here’s how you can tell the difference between the two:

Common Cold vs. Hay Fever

The common cold and hay fever share similar symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, watery eyes, coughing, and sneezing. So, how is it possible to tell the difference between the two? Here’s a few ways:

Timing – Have you had these symptoms longer than one week? Most people start finding relief from the common cold after having it for roughly one week. So, if you’re still sneezing and coughing after a week, it’s likely that you’re experiencing hay fever.

Itchiness – One symptom that isn’t mentioned above as a similarity is itchiness. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, your throat, mouth, ears, or eyes will be itchy. This is a huge indicator of allergic rhinitis.

Sore Throat – Are you having difficulty swallowing or experiencing a sore throat? Normally, a sore throat does not accompany hay fever. If you have a sore throat, it’s likely a symptom of the common cold.

Environment – Look around you. Are you surrounded by grass, pollution, pets, or dust? Those are four very common culprits of allergic rhinitis. If your symptoms come and go as you change environments, you’re not dealing with the common cold.

Treatments for Hay Fever

Fortunately, there are many available treatments to eradicate your allergic rhinitis symptoms. Treatment options include antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, nasal spray, eye drops, medications, and immunotherapy. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or to schedule an appointment.