Seasonal inhalant allergies can make you feel like you're sick but will not cause sickness. It's difficult to distinguish between allergy symptoms and the common cold because the two conditions cause similar reactions in the body. If you're unsure if your symptoms are the result of the common cold or seasonal allergies, make an appointment with your doctor for a clinical diagnosis and treatment options.
Both seasonal inhalant allergies and the common cold can cause similar symptoms, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, headaches, coughing, fatigue, itchy eyes, a sore throat and sneezing. Most of these symptoms are the result of inflammation in your upper respiratory system, which causes irritation and pain from pressure built up in your soft tissues. The main symptoms that can help you determine whether you're sick or you have allergy symptoms is a fever and body aches or chills. A fever will never form as a result of an allergic reaction, but may if you're sick. Body chills and aches almost always develop with a cold and never form with allergies, according to MayoClinic.com.
The main difference between the two conditions is the cause of the symptoms. Seasonal inhalant allergies are the result of a malfunction of the immune system. When you breathe in an airborne substance, such as pollen or mold spores, the immune system mistakes the substance for an intruder and attacks it with various chemicals, such as antibodies and histamine, according to MedlinePlus. These chemicals are the main cause of hay fever symptoms. If you're sick from the common cold, the symptoms are the result of a viral infection. The common cold is caused by more than 100 different viruses and has no cure aside from rest.
If you feel sick from seasonal inhalant allergies, talk with your doctor about over-the-counter medications that may help prevent and treat your symptoms. A common medication used to treat allergy symptoms is an antihistamine. Antihistamines block your body's ability to produce too much histamine, which will reduce swelling and stop irritation caused by an allergic reaction. Decongestants are commonly used to treat sinus congestion. These drugs work by restricting blood flow to the soft tissues in the sinuses, providing relief from sinus pressure, facial tenderness and the inability to breathe through your nose.
In some cases your doctor may recommend allergy shots, also called immunotherapy. This long-term treatment may help permanently reduce the severity of your symptoms to seasonal inhalant allergies, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.