Doctor's Notes on Hay Fever vs. Cold
- runny or stuffy nose,
- postnasal drip,
- watery or bloodshot-appearing eyes,
- trouble sleeping, and
- itching of the nose, eyes, and/or ears.
Common colds have similar symptoms but may also include
The cause of hay fever is the body's immune response (allergic reaction) to foreign material (allergens) usually present in the air you breathe. The cause of a common cold is one or more types of infectious cold-causing viruses that are very contagious. Hay fever is not contagious, and these viral types do not cause colds. Colds usually last about 5-10 days, while hay fever can last as long as the allergens are present in the air (months).
What Are the Treatments of Colds vs. Hay Fever?
The first treatment for hay fever is for patients to limit exposure to the many antigens that are airborne. If you have exposure to hay fever antigens, for many people, over-the-counter (OTC) medications (corticosteroids) in nasal sprays work well to control symptoms. Some people may benefit by adding an OTC antihistamine while others may require prescription medicine; the following are examples of such medications (caregivers may recommend taking some OTCs in combination):
- OTC nasal corticosteroids: mometasone, fluticasone, budesonide
- OTC antihistamines: loratadine, cetirizine, fexofenadine, some include cromolyn sodium
- OTC decongestants: pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline, phenylephrine
Prescription medications include the following:
In contrast to hay fever, most colds are self-limiting in about 7-10 days. OTC medications for fever, discomfort, congestion, and/or cough may reduce symptoms. In general, do not give children OTC cold medications. Your allergist specialist can help design a treatment plan for your hay fever problems; people with colds usually do not need to be seen, but if you have questions about what to do for a cold in your child, contact your child's doctor.
Allergies : Symptoms & Home Remedies QuizQuestion
Allergies can best be described as:See Answer
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Allergy and Hay Fever MedicationsThere are many types of medications available to combat the symptoms of allergies and hay fever. The types of medications include antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec), decongestants (Sudafed), anticholinergic nasal sprays (Atrovent), corticosteroid nasal sprays (Flonase, Nasonex), antiallergy eyedrops (Patanol), leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair), and mast cell inhibitors (Nasalcrom).
Common ColdThe cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world, with more than 1 billion colds per year reported in the United States alone. Symptoms and signs include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, sneezing, and runny nose. Treatment involves drinking plenty of fluids and taking cough, fever, and pain medications.
Hay FeverMost likely you or someone you know has allergies, often referred to as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). The telltale signs include itchy, puffy, watery eyes, and a red, stuffy nose. Spring and fall are the main hay fever seasons, but individuals can experience hay fever signs and symptoms all year long.
How Do You Know if It’s a Cold or Flu?My 15-year-old son woke up with a stuffy nose and a bit of a fever. He wants to still play his football game tonight, but I don’t know if I should let him. A cold is one thing, but if he has the flu, the physical strain could be dangerous for him. How do you know if it’s a cold vs. flu?
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.