Although the common cold and hay fever share various symptoms, these two situations are very different from each other. A virus causes the common cold, whereas hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. Is your “achoo” due to a common cold or due to an allergic reaction causing hay fever? Here is how to tell the difference between hay fever and a cold.
In many ways, the symptoms found in hay fever can be seen in a common cold as well. However, there is a distinct difference. When you are experiencing hay fever from an allergic reaction, you will likely experience itchy eyes, loss of smell, or earaches. These are not present in cases of the common cold. Colds are likely to cause fatigue, a runny nose, general aches, and a sore throat. Another indicator to differentiate between a cold and hay fever is the colour of the nasal discharge. If your mucus is yellowish or greenish, you are experiencing a cold. With hay fever, your mucus would be clear.
- Duration of the symptoms
Your symptoms’ duration is also a good indicator of whether you have a cold or hay fever. Usually, the symptoms of a cold may last a week. However, with hay fever, the symptoms may persist until the necessary medications and preventive measures are taken. They can last for weeks, months, and in many cases, the whole year.
- Times of the year
The time of the year that you experience conflicting symptoms is another difference between cold and hay fever. During the colder months, you are more likely to catch a cold. However, you may experience hay fever seasonally during summer, spring, or early fall; or experience it perennially – suffering the symptoms all year round.
When you experience common cold symptoms, you can take over-the-counter drugs for relief without consulting the doctor. Should you consult the doctor, their feedback would most likely confirm this. In some cases, your cold may have led to other complications such as pneumonia, strep throat, or some other infection. In that case, your doctor would ask for an X-ray to adequately address the issue. You must visit your doctor, ear-nose-and-throat specialist, or allergist to undergo several tests with hay fever. These tests would help these medical experts determine the cause of your allergic reaction and prescribe the right treatment option for you.
- Treatment options
Since colds are caused by viruses, taking antibiotics for your cold would not help you achieve the desired result. You can fight the common cold with cough syrups, decongestion sprays and drops, pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter cold medications. With hay fever, you would need antihistamines like Telfast to reduce the effects of the chemical histamines, decongestants to relieve nasal congestion, and nasal corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passage.
These indicators can help you determine whether you are suffering a cold or hay fever from an allergic reaction. However, do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you are uncertain.
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