Is it a Summer Cold or Allergies?

Dr. Steve Salvatore July 19, 2017

Summer is the time for sun and fun – not for sneezing, coughing and feeling icky all the time. Unfortunately, summer colds and summer allergies sometimes get the best of us. If you happen to fall victim and want to feel better fast, there are preventative steps you can take and treatments for each ailment.


What are the symptoms?

Both summer colds and summer allergies have very similar symptoms, including:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat


So, how can you tell what you have?

There are few signs that can help determine if you have summer allergies or a summer cold. One way to identify summer allergies is if you feel significantly better and find relief when you leave the outdoors and go indoors. Two other symptoms of summer allergies are itchy, swollen, or bloodshot eyes and an itchy nose – which are not typically present with a cold.


How can you prevent (and treat) both?

Summer Allergies

Summer allergies can last all season. So, rather than wait for them to pass, you might want to get some ongoing relief via over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine or nasal spray. You can also:

  • Avoid areas (wooded/overgrown) or activities (lawn mowing, gardening) where airborne allergens might be present.
  • Always drink fluids to suppress post-nasal drip, which causes coughing

Summer Colds

Although summer colds are less common than winter colds, you still catch them the same way.  Follow the same precautions:

  • Frequently wash your hands using anti-bacterial soap
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose
  • Avoid sharing cups and utensils
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of water, juice or tea
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly

If you feel symptoms, here are some treatment remedies to try at home:

  • Take a decongestant to unclog a stuffy nose
  • Take TYLENOL® to reduce fever and manage pain
  • Mix honey with tea or hot water to ease coughing
  • Gargle (but don’t swallow) with salt water to treat a sore throat

Summer colds or summer allergies are nothing to sneeze at, so get the help you need to fight either one. Your STAT Health team is always here when you need us!