If you have cold symptoms in the middle of summer, you are probably wondering whether or not they have something to do with allergies or if you’re just suffering from the common cold—the symptoms can be very similar. Here are some ways to tell the difference between the common cold and summer allergies, and what you can do to ease the discomfort.

Summer Cold Treatments

saline-sprayBoth allergies and colds can give you a scratchy throat, headaches, a post-nasal drip, and congestion. If you have fever, muscle aches, and cloudy or discolored mucus then you probably have a cold and not just allergy symptoms. Cold symptoms during summer can often feel worse than they do during cold and flu season as the heat outside makes it harder to curl up with a blanket and hot tea. Drinking hot tea and taking steamy showers aren’t as easy when it is 80 to 100 degrees outside. Switching to iced tea and sinus rinsing can be more helpful when it is hot outside, as well as getting plenty of rest. Other tips to cope with a summer cold include:

  • Saline spray to loosen mucus
  • Tylenol to reduce fever and help pain
  • Cough drops
  • Gargling with warm salt water to help a sore throat
  • Drinking water

Allergy Clues

Pollen tends to be the biggest cause of summer allergies, along with weeds and grass. Ragweed may not grow near you but it can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind and is one of the most common summer allergens. If you suffer from summer allergies, smog can make your symptoms worse too. The most common is ozone, which is created from the mix of sunlight with the chemicals released from car exhaust.


Insects that sting are more active such as wasps, bees, yellow jackets, and fire ants. If they sting you this can cause an allergic reaction. Mild symptoms caused by insect bites include itching and swelling around the bite. More severe allergic reactions can cause your throat to feel as if it is swelling shut, your tongue might swell and dizziness and nausea can occur. If this happens to you call 911 immediately.

Allergy Diagnosis

dandelionIf you believe you are allergic to something, you should go to your doctor and ask to be tested. Typically they will ask for your symptoms and allergy history and may suggest various treatments. Your doctor may send you to an allergy specialist for skin testing where they will expose a small part of your skin to various allergen, if you react a small red bump will form in the test spot.

Allergy Treatment

Over the counter medications:

  • Nasal spray decongestants
  • Eye drops
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants

Prescription medications:

  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists
  • Immunotherapy
  • Corticosteroid nasal sprays

Avoiding Allergy Triggers

When pollen and smog levels are high, try to stay inside to avoid contact and keep your doors and windows closed. Use an air purifier in your home and clean your bookshelves, vents, and other places where dust and pollen typically reside. Wear a mask when outside and change your clothes after you go outside. Taking a few extra precautions each day can make your day so much easier and help lessen your allergy symptoms. Suffering from summer allergies is not the end of the world, you can still enjoy your summer and being outside when you take the necessary steps to lessen your allergy symptoms.