Hay Fever

Allergic Rhinitis

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Hay fever signs and diagnosis

If you suspect yourself of having allergies, it’s a good idea to contact your healthcare provider—he or she can conduct testing to determine whether you have allergies and what you are allergic to.

There are a number of signs10 that may indicate that you have allergies.

Signs of hay fever

As severe allergies may have some of the same symptoms as a common cold, you may be unsure whether you have hay fever or a viral infection. The symptoms of hay fever that mimic those found in the common cold include a stuffy or runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, and sneezing.

However, more severe cold symptoms like a sore throat, aches and pains, or a fever are almost never caused by seasonal allergies.

While symptoms of the common cold develop gradually over the course of a few days, allergy symptoms present immediately after exposure to allergens. Similarly, while cold viruses go away over time as your body heals and recovers, allergic reactions stop after you are no longer exposed to allergy-causing particles.

Because of this, noting the onset and duration of your symptoms can help you determine whether you have hay fever or have caught a cold.

Diagnosing hay fever

Getting the correct diagnosis11 for your symptoms is crucial in order to determine what type of medical treatment you should receive. While the common cold often goes away on its own, you don’t have to suffer through symptoms of hay fever.

Once you have been diagnosed with seasonal allergies, your healthcare provider and pharmacist will be able to recommend and prescribe a combination of medications and treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms.

If you believe that you or your child has shown symptoms of hay fever, go to your healthcare provider—he or she will be able to determine whether you have allergies, and if you do, can identify the allergen(s) causing your symptoms.

When conducting diagnostic testing for hay fever, your healthcare provider will often begin by consulting your medical history and conducting a physical examination. He or she may also opt for further testing.

Some of the allergy tests12 a healthcare provider may conduct include:

  • A skin prick test: A healthcare provider (usually an allergy specialist) will prick a small amount of material that can trigger allergic reactions into the skin on your arm or back. He or she will then watch your skin to see whether you develop raised bumps (or hives) at the site of particular allergens, which indicate an allergy to those particular substances.
  • An allergy blood test: Providers may take a sample of blood and send it to a lab, which will detect your immune response to specific allergens by measuring the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream.
  • Provider-supervised challenge tests: Under the supervision of your healthcare provider, you may inhale or ingest a small amount of an allergen by mouth. This test is usually used to determine possible medication or food allergies. Provider supervision is crucial due to the risk of anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

There is no one test that is able to diagnose an allergy—allergy testing is just one of the many ways with which your provider will be able to give you a proper diagnosis.

It is important to keep in mind that a positive skin test result alone cannot diagnose an allergy and does not predict the severity of an allergic reaction. A negative skin test result, however, usually indicates that you are not allergic to a specific substance.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.