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Runny Nose: Is it an Allegery or a Cold

There has been talk that this allergy season could be a bad one - early spring brings more pollen, the irritant that brings on hay fever. I for one live in denial of seasonal allergies and just like to pretend that I have a cold...a cold that goes on FOREVER.

Since allergy season is upon us (or about to be depending on where you live) I thought I would help describe how allergy symptoms are special. How they are unique and differ from those of the common cold.

  • Itchy nose: Although allergies and colds both produce a runny nose and congestion, allergies create the dreaded itchy nose. The itch generally occurs in the back of the nose and is difficult to "scratch." Folks suffering from "nasal pruritus" (the fanciest way in the world to say itchy nose) often scrunch up their faces, like a bunny, to try to alleviate the itch.
  • The sneeze: Sneezing frequently, and sometimes quietly, is common with allergies. Sneezes from colds tend to be loud, deep and infrequent, attempting to clear the bronchial congestion down in the lungs. Allergy sneezes are more about trying to get the allergen out of the nose.
  • Runny Eyes: While eyes might occasionally water with a cold, they will run profusely with allergies.
  • Mucus color: Mucus (yep, snot) is generally clear with allergies, where as with a cold it tends to have a color - yellow to green.
  • Dark Circles under the eyes: This symptom is sometimes referred to poetically as the "allergy shiner". These "shiners" are caused by the inability of veins in the area to drain due to chronic nasal congestion. It is like a traffic jam in your infraorbital area. Common colds do not cause these.

So if you too are in allergy denial hopefully this list will help you figure out that you might indeed have hay fever and need to leave the weeding and lawn mowing to someone else for now.

squiggles squiggles 10 years
I would really love spring if it wasn't for the allergies. :( I tend to pop Claritin pills like they're M&Ms. Sometimes a hot shower will help, since the steam kinda soothes my nasal passages. Eating spicy foods helps open up my congested nose as well. For the most part, though, I just kinda suffer through it. Another reason to look forward to summer.
econinsf econinsf 10 years
I have had allergies all of my life. I have constant dark circles under my eyes. I used to get weekly shots and all sorts of other horrible things that didn't really help anyway. I now use Flonase or actually a generic version. It is a nasal spray that I use once a day. It stays in my sinuses and not in my bloodstream so I don't get drowsy or dry mouth or any other symptoms from oral meds. I only use it half the recommended dosage and notice very few side effects. The other thing I use as well are antihistamine eye drops because sometimes my eyes get itchy too. You can get the eye drops over the counter. Sometimes when my symptoms get really bad I use Zyrtec too and love it.
kscincotta kscincotta 10 years
I tend to get bad headaches that The Hubs swears are allergy related. Is there any sneaky way to tell that for sure?
rkdub rkdub 10 years
This couldn't have come at a better time... I have been fighting a cold for a week now and could not for the life of me figure out if it really was a cold, or if it was allergies. Simplybe - I swear by Zyrtec, and my boyfriend uses Singulair. I had a massive allergic reaction to an antibiotic and got all swollen and changed colors (I had purple stripes like a barber shop pole going up my legs). 2 benadryl every four hours didn't even work, but Zyrtec worked perfectly and didn't make me drowsy at all.... my bf is allergic to almost everything and Singulair works for him!!!!
JustMe21 JustMe21 10 years
Thanks for clearing it up for me!
simplybe1 simplybe1 10 years
ugh, I know what you mean, Fit. This past weekend was so nice out, and boy am I paying for it. I also like to pretend it's just a six month cold. Of course, I know better. I was considering seeing my doctor for medication (the over the counter stuff always knocks me out)but it's much easier to remain in denial. Any suggestions for your favorite allergy-relief remedies?
JKe895 JKe895 10 years
I still have a really hard time telling the difference between getting a cold or my horrible allergies. I think around the spring season I'm known on a first name basis with the health care officials.
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