How to tell the difference between hay fever and a cold

by take-a-break |
Published on

Superdrug’s Pharmacy Superintendent, Niamh McMillan, explains the difference…

Hay fever and colds are easily confused as they share similar symptoms such as sneezing, runny or blocked nose and coughing. However, it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two in order to find the right treatment and alleviate symptoms.

Length of symptoms

Unfortunately for hay fever sufferers, symptoms can last weeks or even months. The peak is usually between mid-May and July, however it is dependent on your specific allergy. Colds typically run their course between seven to 10 days.

Colour and texture of mucus

Both hay fever and a cold usually come with a stuffy or runny nose, but you can tell the difference by looking at the mucus. Hay fever sufferers will typically have mucus that is clear and watery. It’s more likely to be a cold if the mucus is thick and yellow.

Sore throat

A sore throat is a common precursor to the common cold, whereas you’re unlikely to experience a sore throat with hay fever.

Facial itchiness

Itchy and watery eyes, along with throat irritation are all linked to hay fever, as a direct response to the allergen, pollen. On particularly high pollen days, protect your skin and when indoors try to keep windows closed to avoid over-exposure.

When and how to seek help

If you’re still unsure you can visit one of Superdrug’s Pharmacies or in-store health clinics, where a healthcare professional will be able to offer advice and support. Visit in-store or online (superdrug.com) for a wide range of common cold and hay fever products.

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