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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.

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