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Is Hayfever Contagious?

It sure seems like you (if you suffer from hayfever) or those around you must be spreading hayfever germs—all that sneezing, runny noses, leaking eyes and used tissues can’t be good for anyone. But, is hayfever contagious?


In reality, allergic rhinitis—as it’s called in the medical community—is not contagious. In fact, the symptoms come from an allergic reaction inside your body to something in the environment, like pollen.

However, did you know that the symptoms of hayfever, contagious or not, are very similar to those of the common cold? On the other hand, that is quite contagious.

Hayfever or cold—how can you tell?

Even though their symptoms are comparable, because their causes and treatments are so different, it is important to understand whether you or your loved one is sick with a cold, or dealing with allergies. So, how do you figure that out?

Common cold

The cold virus infects the upper respiratory tract (the nose and throat). With a cold, you will probably experience a runny nose and/or nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, a low-grade fever and maybe a headache or sore throat. You probably won’t have itchy, watery eyes; in fact, most of your discomfort will be confined to your nose. Symptoms rarely last beyond two weeks, whether you treat it or not.


With hayfever, the runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion will look much like the common cold symptoms. However, allergies don’t produce a fever, and they rarely make you cough. You’ll probably have itchy, watery eyes, and maybe an itchy throat. Symptoms may last weeks, or months, or even all year long.


The common cold typically needs to run its course; because it’s a virus, and not a bacterial infection, antibiotics won’t help. You can manage symptoms and feel better faster if you get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take an over-the-counter cold and flu medicine to help reduce your fever and ease your symptoms. If however your symptoms last longer than 10 days or get worse, it’s probably time to see a doctor.

Hayfever, though it can’t be cured, can be easily treated with antihistamines. These medications block the effects of histamines in your body (the chemical responsible for the allergic reaction), relieving symptoms. There are many products available, from fast-acting tablets and capsules, to targeted relief from nasal sprays and eye drops—and they all work quickly to get you back to feeling your best.

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