Signs it’s hay fever, not just the never ending cold!

With so many similar symptoms, from sneezing to a runny nose, it’s easy to understand why many people find it hard to distinguish between a cold and hay fever.

Many hay fever sufferers experience mild to moderate hay fever throughout the year, with a spike in symptoms during spring due to the high pollen count.

If you have never had hay fever before, you are more likely to assume you have a common cold that never seems to end! But, hay fever allergies can actually be triggered for the first time by a cold or flu, due to the stress on the immune system.


So, what are the similarities?

Most people know that sneezing, runny noses, congestion and sinus pain are symptoms common to both the cold and hay fever. Some lesser known shared symptoms include tiredness, headaches and difficulty concentrating.

Coughs are another common symptom. While they are most commonly caused by viral infections and are usually the residue of the cold or flu, hay fever can also lead to dry cough.

With so many common symptoms, it’s easy to see why people can get confused. Being aware of the differences between a cold and hay fever is important in that it can help ensure you choose the correct treatment for your condition.


What are the differences?

Firstly it’s important to know that a cold is caused by a virus, whereas hay fever is predominately caused by an allergic response, typically to pollens and plant phenolics during spring and dust, dust mites, animal dander and moulds throughout the rest of the year.

So, what are the distinguishing symptoms?

Itchiness – There is one symptom in particular that can help differentiate between hay fever and a cold and that’s…itchiness! If you have red, watery, itchy eyes, an itchy throat, even an itchy palate (top or back of the month) and ears then it’s probably hay fever as these symptoms are rarely experienced when you have a cold. The one expectation would be an itchy nose, which can often appear before a sneeze in both hay fever and a cold.

Nasal discharge – Another good indicator of whether it is a cold or hay fever is the colour of your nasal discharge. Although not the most pleasant of topics, it’s helpful to know the difference. If it’s a cold your nasal discharge is more likely to be yellowish/green, whereas if it’s hay fever it will most likely be more watery and clear.

Sore throat – With hay fever, you rarely get a sore throat (usually it is just an itchy dry feeling), whereas it is a frequent indicator of an impending cold. Therefore, if you have cold-like symptoms and a sore throat or have had one in the last few days, it is more likely to be a cold.

Duration – The duration of your symptoms is another good indicator of which condition you have. While the onset of a cold is usually a gradual process, which can last for up to 14 days, hay fever symptoms tend to come on all at once and can unfortunately last much longer – for days, weeks, months or even all year. With hay fever, your symptoms will last as long as you are exposed to the allergen.


But I’ve never had hay fever before!

When you start feeling unwell, it’s easy to think it could be a cold, especially if you have never had hay fever before. In Australia & NZ it is estimated that 1 in 5 people suffer from hay fever and it’s important to know that hay fever can start at any age.

It’s a common misconception that hay fever starts in childhood, so if you never had it as a child you won’t get it as an adult. It can often be triggered later in life by stressful events or other underlying conditions, with a growing number of middle aged adults and elderly now being affected for the first time.


Is it possible to get both?

Yes, although this is a cruel trick your body can play on you, it is possible to have a cold and hay fever at the same time, especially if your immune system is very weak.


Natural Hay Fever Treatment

At Health & Wellness Australia/Auckland, we specialise in a natural allergy treatment to help manage the symptoms of hay fever, and other allergy-related conditions, called Positive Association Technique (PAT)

PAT is a non-invasive, natural allergy treatment which:

  • is performed by qualified and experienced Naturopaths
  • draws on kinesiology and acupressure techniques
  • aims to re-train your body to no longer react to your individual hay fever triggers

To find out more, call our Head Office on 1300 853 023/09 479 5997(NZ) to see if we can help you!

You can send our practitioners a question here –

You can get your FREE PAT Information E-PACK here –