Bless You! Differentiating Between Cold and Hayfever Symptoms

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August is coming to an end and we’ve been dabbling with that fantastic season in Brisbane where temperatures constantly vary (hot one moment, cold the next).  One of the most difficult parts of this time of year? Knowing whether that sniffle you have is a symptom of some Spring hay fever or an early taste of the winter cold. Here are a few ways to tell the difference and tips and tricks to alleviate your symptoms.

Where to Start?

Initially, you would benefit from trying a medicine that alleviates the symptoms of both hay fever and the cold. Try out Sinutab and Sudafed. Both of these medicines relieve cold and flu symptoms, allergies and sinus-related pain and congestion. They only take between fifteen minutes and half an hour to begin to take effect. Once the effects kick and you are feeling a little more comfortable and able to function, you can begin to work out what you are actually suffering from.

Overlapping Symptoms

Some of the symptoms that overlap in hay fever and the common cold are sneezing, a runny nose, congestion and sinus pains. Other lesser acknowledged symptoms include sleepiness, headaches and an inability to concentrate effectively.

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Hay Fever

An astonishing 25% of the British population (that’s around 16 million Brits) suffer from hay fever at some point during their lives, so there’s a good chance that you could be one of them! You may never have experienced it before, but allergies to pollen can be cyclical. This means that you may be struck by the condition as an adult, despite never having shown any symptoms as a child or an adolescent. So, it’s important that you understand the symptoms whether you’ve suffered previously or not, as this will allow you to understand why you are feeling unwell sooner rather than later. A key symptom of hay fever is itchiness. If your eyes, ears or nose become exceedingly itchy, chances are that you are experiencing hay fever. This irritating feeling can also extend to your palate (the roof of your mouth) and the top of your throat. Look out for redness of the eyes, a watery discharge from the eyes or even itching of the lower throat too. This can all be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines. Ask your GP or your pharmacist for further advice on what will be best suited to your needs.

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The Cold

While hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, the common cold is caused by a virus and its main symptoms include a runny or blocked nose and sneezing (similar to that caused by hay fever), a sore throat and a cough. A good way to differentiate between the types of runny or blocked noses is to compare the discharge. If it is clear, you probably have hay fever. However, green or yellow snot is indicative of infection, which pertains more to the cold. While there is no cure for the cold, you can expect for it to be out of your system within three weeks at the most. You can also take care of yourself by resting, eating healthily, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve any discomfort. You can also try out a combination of different cough syrups, lozenges and throat sprays. However, remember to check with your pharmacist before combining any different medicines. For a more natural remedy, try a cup of warm water, honey, lemon and ginger to soothe a raw, sore throat. You may begin to experience other, more severe symptoms alongside those aforementioned, including a fever or high temperature, headaches and aching muscles. However, these are all more closely linked to the flu. Make sure that you visit your GP if symptoms persist for longer than three weeks if you are experiencing difficulties breathing, your symptoms suddenly get worse or you develop complications of a cold, such as chest pain or coughing up bloodstained mucus.


Hopefully, by now, you’ve identified which of these two conditions is affecting you. This will allow you to make the right decisions and help your body to rest and recuperate in the most effective and sensible way. It’s time to say “so long” to your sniffles, sore throats, aches, pains and irritations and get on with your day-to-day activities in as healthy, care-free and comfortable a manner as possible.


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