Are You Suffering From A Cold, Or Do You Have Hay Fever?
Believe it or not, hay fever season is here again. Many people in Ireland suffer from hay fever, and many people have it and they don’t even realise it!
Many people think that they have a cold which won’t go away, but in actual fact they have hay fever, but because they have never experienced it before, they don’t consider it an option. I would like to explain, what hay fever is, what the causes are, and what the difference is between hay fever and a viral infection like a cold or flu.
What Is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis. It is an allergic response triggered by exposure to pollen or mould spores. Pollen or mould spores are microscopic grains which are discharged from flowers or male cones- some plants emit more pollen than others.
When you have hay fever, your immune system mistakenly identifies pollen or mould spores as harmful, your immune system then reacts to these “Invaders” by producing antibodies. Once antibodies have been produced, every time you encounter the same pollen, your body produces histamine. Production of histamine can then lead to all kinds of symptoms which are similar to those of the common cold.
The Following Can Increase Your Risk Of Hay Fever
- Having other allergies or asthma,
- Being an only child and being bought up in a city.
- Having atopic dermatitis,
- Having a blood relative (such as a parent or sibling) with allergies or asthma.
- Living or working in an environment that constantly exposes you to a wide variety of plants.
Problems Associated With Hay Fever
Quality of life: Allergies can impact your enjoyment of outside activities and cause you to be less productive. Some sufferers can feel tired and even miss days of work or school.
Poor sleep: The same as a cold can affect your sleep in a negative way. If your sinuses are inflamed and you can’t breathe well, it can be difficult to get into a deep sleep, resulting in fatigue and generally feeling unwell.
Worsening asthma: Severe cases of can increase the severity of the symptoms of asthma with increased coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Sinusitis: Prolonged hay fever may increase your susceptibility to sinusitis. Use of conventional hay fever medications that dry out the mucous lining in the nose, can cause cracks for bacteria to break through and thrive, causing frequent sinus infection.
How Is A Cold Different?
The common cold is a viral infection that can be transmitted from one person to another, not a reaction to an outside factor such as pollen. Your body produces antibodies as a reaction to the cold virus. Unlike hay fever, your body will eventually overcome the cold virus and you will feel better. You can catch a cold again at another time and because the virus is constantly changing, it’s not the same cold, and so you have to overcome each cold separately. With hay fever, you are reacting to the pollen and seeing it as an enemy, but it can’t be overcome, so your body is doing a lot of work, to no avail. If you have a cold, you can look after yourself, support your immune system and hopefully feel better soon. The only thing to do in the case of hay fever is to try and moderate your body’s reaction which will lessen your symptoms.
Signs That You Have Hay Fever:
- Runny or stuffed nose
- Watery, itchy or red eyes
- Swollen eyes, or blue coloured skin under the eyes
Onset: Symptoms will come on immediately after exposure to pollen or spores.
Duration: Symptoms continue for as long as you’re exposed to pollen or spores, and will clear up soon after you’re away from allergens, for example, you feel better when inside.
Signs that you have a cold:
- Runny or stuffed nose
- Body aches
- Fever and tiredness
- Sore throat
Onset: Symptoms of a cold can come on between one to three days after you have been infected –It will come on less suddenly than hay fever.
Duration: Depending on your immune system a cold might last between 3 to 10 days.
If you are suffering from what feels like a sustained cold, it might be worth asking whether you have hay fever.
Thank you for reading, please look out for further blogs about how to reduce hay fever with nutritional supplements and practical tips.