Hay fever signs and symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue

Seasonal factors

Your hay fever signs and symptoms may start or worsen at a particular time of year. Triggers include:

  • Tree pollen, which is common in early spring.
  • Grass pollen, which is common in late spring and summer.
  • Ragweed pollen, which is common in fall.
  • Dust mites, cockroaches and dander from pets can occur year-round (perennial). Symptoms to indoor allergens might worsen in winter, when houses are closed up.
  • Spoors from indoor and outdoor fungi and molds are considered both seasonal and perennial.

Hay fever or common cold?

Signs and symptoms can be similar, so it can be difficult to tell which one you have.

  Hay fever Cold
Signs and symptoms Runny nose with thin, watery discharge; no fever Runny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge; body aches; low-grade fever
Onset Immediately after exposure to allergens 1-3 days after exposure to a cold virus
Duration As long as you're exposed to allergens 3-7 days

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if:

  • You can't find relief from your hay fever symptoms
  • Allergy medications don't provide relief or cause annoying side effects
  • You have another condition that can worsen hay fever symptoms, such as nasal polyps, asthma or frequent sinus infections

Many people — especially children — get used to hay fever symptoms, so they might not seek treatment until the symptoms become severe. But getting the right treatment might offer relief.

Oct. 17, 2015