You may have noticed the sniffling and snuffling in the office, and you may be wondering whether if it’s the latest office cold making the rounds or whether it’s hay fever. A common myth is that you only get colds in the winter, yet different cold viruses circulate all year. However, with tree pollen in full bloom and grass pollen due in May and June, the snuffles you hear could very well be hay fever.
Both ailments have confusingly similar symptoms therefore it can be tricky around this time of year to work out which one is making you miserable.
What are the differences?
Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to pollen. Hay fever is characterised by being more persistent and will continue for as long as you are in contact with the allergen. Hay fever sufferers often notice on warm, dry days that their symptoms are more severe than on cooler, wetter days.
Hay fever symptoms include:
- Runny nose (rhinitis) often with sneezing and nasal congestion
- Itchy throat and ears
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
Hay fever can affect concentration and sleep making you feel truly miserable!
A cold is different as it’s caused by a virus. The onset of a cold is usually a gradual process that resolves itself in 7-10 days. As well as the symptoms above, with a cold you also get a fever and chills, and nasal discharge which is yellowish/green.
How do I treat hay fever?
Hay fever symptoms last much longer than a cold but there are a lot of different approaches to help you get through the season.
- Over the counter treatments: antihistamines such a Loratadine and Cetirizine, which are also non-drowsy. Chlorpheniramine is also effective however, it can make you feel drowsy, so it’s recommended that you take this before bed. Nasal sprays also provide effective relief for congestion.
- Eye drops: these provide relief for itchy, red eyes and you can pop them in the fridge before use before a little extra relief!
If none of the above are helping, it’s time to see a GP. A doctor can provide you with prescription-only hay fever treatments, including stronger antihistamines, steroid based nose sprays and prescription eye drops.
At London Doctors Clinic we offer an array of same day hay fever treatments, including the hay fever injection for long lasting relief.
How do I treat a cold?
Taking care of your cold means you need to take care of yourself. Plenty of fluids, rest and taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with any fever or aches. Decongestants and nasal sprays can be helpful however, they can only be used for 2-3 days.
Whilst hay fever can’t give you a cold, having a cold can make your hay fever symptoms feel a lot a worse. By sticking the treatments outlined above, things will improve.
You should see a GP if your symptoms don’t improve after 3 weeks or if they suddenly get worse.