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Summer Allergies vs Cold

Do you have a Summer Cold or Allergies?

Learn the differences between summer allergies and a cold based on your symptoms. This will help you identify it, beat it, and get back to feeling better in no time! Dr. Mehta discusses the differences and provides an overview of both cold symptoms and allergy symptoms, and also provides treatment options for each. If you’re still unsure about whether you have a summer cold or allergies, you can schedule your visit with us at Uptown Allergy & Asthma for a formal diagnosis.

Dr. Mehta is my favorite allergist I’ve ever seen! Really comprehensive care and great attention to detail. Very friendly and compassionate, and spends a lot of time talking things through. She has helped me with allergy maintenance and flare ups, and my allergies feel much better controlled.

– Maddie H, March 2020

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Summer Cold or Allergies explained by Dr. Reena Mehta in New Orleans, LA
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Overview of Summer Colds & Summer Allergies


Summer Cold

Summer Allergies


What is a Summer Cold?

A summer cold is a viral respiratory infection that usually resolves within a few days and that occurs in the months of June, July, and August. Summer cold symptoms are the same as the common cold. The common cold can occur at any time of year, although most occur during the fall and winter months. Colds are not caused by cold climates or exposure to cold air. There are many hundred strains of rhinovirus that are responsible for causing the common cold. Catching a specific strain of rhinovirus virus will help you produce immunity to that one strain. However, people still catch colds several times in a year and throughout their lifetime due to other viral strains.
Woman with summer cold or allergies outdoors in New Orleans

Summer Cold Symptoms

Summer cold symptoms include a runny or congested nose, sneezing, sore throat, scratchy throat, and cough.

What are Summer Allergies?

Summer allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, affects many people of all ages in the United States. Allergies in the summer are caused by a reaction to airborne particles such as pollen. The particles can cause nasal, throat, lung, and eye reactions. In spring and summer, pollen from trees and grass causes allergic reactions that can worsen when you are outdoors.

Summer Allergy Symptoms

The most common summer allergy symptoms include itchy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, red eyes, and sore throat.

Differences Between Summer Allergies vs Colds

There are several things to consider when trying to determine if you have a summer cold or allergies.

How long will it last?

A summer cold lasts three to seven days on average. However, some people may continue to have cold symptoms like congestion, cough, or sneezing for up to 14 days.

Summer allergies last longer than 2 weeks and can continue for an entire allergy season.

Timing of Symptoms

Colds can start mild, ramp up, and then resolve while allergies typically remain constant for a period of time, especially if you stay in the same location and are consistently exposed to the allergen that triggers your reactions. If you do travel to a distinctly different geographic region, depending on the climate and pollen count in the area, your allergies may improve or worsen.
Man with summer cold or allergies laying down and blowing his nose

Types of Symptoms

When you have a cold, the mucus from coughing or blowing your nose is thick and green or yellow in color. When you have allergies, the nasal discharge and mucus you produce is thinner and clear in appearance. While summer colds and allergies can both cause symptoms like runny nose, congestion, and itchy throat, a severe cold can cause symptoms like sweats and fever.

Managing a Summer Cold

Summer Cold Treatment

There is no curative summer cold treatment. Existing treatments aim to relieve symptoms and are not able to shorten the duration of the cold or eliminate the cold altogether. For example, you can take over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications such as cough suppressants and nasal decongestants. A humidifier can help with congestion, cough, and sore throat. Because colds are caused by viruses and not bacteria, antibiotics are not useful.

Cold symptoms will resolve over time even without any treatment. Before taking any over-the-counter medicines, always consult with your doctor.

Patient discussing summer cold treatment with a pharmacist in New Orleans

How to Avoid a Summer Cold

There are several measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold in the summer:

• Wash your hands and limit your exposure to sick people – Colds can be transmitted from person to person and sometimes from touching contaminated surfaces with the virus.

• Boost your immune system – Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, stay hydrated, and avoid excessive activity or stress. These are all ways to make sure your immune system is functioning at its best in the event it must fight off a summer cold virus.

Managing Summer Allergies

Summer Allergy Treatment

Treating summer allergies involves avoiding or reducing exposure to the allergens that trigger your reactions. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, staying indoors on days with high pollen counts can help with your allergy symptoms. Using air filters and showering after spending time outdoors can help remove continuous exposure to allergens. There are also over-the-counter treatments. Saline sprays and rinses help wash away allergens from the nasal lining. Antihistamines can also help with itchiness and inflammation. If your summer allergies are severe, you may want to consult with your allergist about other treatments such as allergy shots.

Dr. Mehta discusses the summer allergy season in New Orleans and why it can be worse than other parts of the country.

How to Avoid Summer Allergies

Minimizing or eliminating exposure to the things that make you have allergic reactions is the best way to avoid allergy symptoms. Checking pollen and mold spore counts before leaving the house is one step you can take to minimize exposure. Read our pages on nasal allergies and eye allergies to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it a summer cold or allergies?

Allergies are persistent and longer lasting. A summer cold typically lasts three to seven days. Colds can cause thick, greenish-yellowish mucus. Allergies cause thin, translucent mucus. Colds can cause fever or sweats.

Can you get a cold in the summer?

Yes, you can get a cold in the summer. Despite the fact that colds are more common in fall and winter, you can still get a cold in the middle of summer.

How to avoid a cold in summer?

To avoid a summer cold, wash your hands and limit your exposure to sick people. Getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy, and minimizing stress helps your immune system fight off a summer cold virus.

How to cure a cold in the summer?

There is no cure for a summer cold. However, you can take over-the-counter medicines to reduce symptoms, take immune-boosting supplements or remedies, and use a humidifier to get relief.

Can you have allergies in the summer?

Yes, allergies in the summer are caused by a reaction to airborne particles, such as pollen. In the summer, pollen from trees and grass causes allergic reactions.

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Get Back to Feeling Better in New Orleans

Concerned that your summer cold might actually be allergies? It might be time to see a specialist. Dr. Mehta has a reputation for developing strong relationships with her patients and being exceptionally attentive to their needs and concerns.

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Uptown New Orleans

2620 Jena St,
New Orleans, LA 70115

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