In this episode, we dive into what seasonal allergies are – aka hayfever.
Then we’ll talk about the most common – and several less well-known – symptoms to look for, to determine if you or someone you care about might be suffering from hayfever.
Finally, we’ll explore the differences between colds/flus and seasonal allergies, to help guide you in selecting appropriate and effective treatments.
If you or someone you care about suffers from seasonal allergies, you might wonder, what is hayfever, and what are the common symptoms?
Read on as we cover each of those topics.
(Note: This is Part 1 of a series on Seasonal Allergies. Scroll down to the bottom for links to Parts 2-5).
What is Hayfever?
Hayfever, also called seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, is a condition which causes cold- or flu-like symptoms.
But where colds and flus are caused by viruses, seasonal allergies are not.
They are caused by an immune system reaction – an over-reaction, in most cases – to airborne particles.
(Wondering what the most common triggers of allergies are and when they tend to happen? Then check out my article Seasonal Allergies: Triggers and Timing).
When the immune system responds to allergens, it creates inflammation (swelling) as the body sends a flood of traffic (immune cells) to capture, isolate and destroy the offending particles after they have entered the respiratory system (nose/sinuses, mouth, throat, ears, and lungs):
This immune response also stimulates an increased production of mucous to flush out the invaders.
The swelling and extra mucous from this immune response are what lead to most of the symptoms that are associated with allergies.
Some of the symptoms of seasonal allergies are well known and obvious. But others might surprise you!
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
|Congestion/pressure||Impaired hearing||Chest congestion|
|Nose, cheeks, teeth||“Gravel” in eyes||Asthma|
|Head, neck, jaw||Goopy or watery eyes||Shortness of breath|
|Ears, eyes||Red, burning or sore eyes||Stomach upset/nausea|
|Throat||Puffy/swollen eyes||Impaired sense of taste|
|Lungs||Light-sensitivity||Loss of appetite|
|Sneezing||Dark circles under eyes||Looser stools|
|Itchy nose, eyes or ears||Itchy palate (roof of mouth)||More food reactivity|
|Postnasal drip (PND)||Toothache||Headaches|
|Impaired smelling||Pain in cheeks or jaw||Swollen glands in neck|
|Ringing in ears||Sore throat||Skin rashes, hives, acne|
|Increased ear wax||Tickle in throat||Histamine reaction|
Now, after seeing that list of symptoms of seasonal allergies, you might have noticed that a lot of them are similar to the common cold/flu. But there are some key differences that are important to note, since:
- a cold or flu can be contagious, so you should stay home while you recover, while allergies are not (though you might want to stay home anyway cuz you feel rotten!),
- effective treatments for cold/flu vs. allergies are different.
So, how can you tell the difference between a cold/flu and seasonal allergies?
The Differences Between Cold/Flu and Allergies:
|Hayfever||Clear or white mucous;
no fever or chills;
no body aches;
no vomiting or diarrhea;
gets better with anti-histamines
|Immediately after exposure to allergens||As long as you’re exposed to allergens|
|Cold/Flu||Colorful mucous (yellow, green, brown); body aches;
does not respond to anti-histamines
|One to three days after exposure to a cold virus||Three to seven days|
Now that we’ve covered what hayfever is and what the typical symptoms are, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll go over the most common triggers of seasonal allergies and when exposure to them usually happens.
Part 2: Triggers and Timing
Part 3: The Underlying (Root) Causes
Part 4: The Bests Tests to Do
Part 5: Natural Treatments