It’s summertime! – time to enjoy some fun in the sun while you can. Whether you want to hit the beach, the golf course or the local pool, there’s one thing that can get in your way of enjoying yourself to the full – a runny nose accompanied by sneezing. Do you have the dreaded summer cold? – maybe not, but unfortunately you might be even more upset about the real answer.

We usually associate allergies with the spring and autumn seasons, but summer allergies are becoming more and more common. In fact, many who struggle with allergies are now waging war all year around.

What are some of the most common summer culprits? For many it is pollen from grass. The smell of fresh cut grass may be welcoming in summertime, but not so if it elicits a fit of sneezing. The other major enemy is mold. Even at its peak season, pollen is never as prolific as mold is all year long. For those who suffer from allergies perpetually, mold is often the trigger.

Just because you have never had allergies in the past, don’t write this summer’s sniffles off as a cold yet. Summer allergies can come on suddenly and without warning, even for those who don’t have a history of seasonal allergies. So how can you tell what is causing your nose to run? Here are a few things to look out for.

Colds won’t usually hang on for any longer than two weeks. If your symptoms aren’t going away, it’s time to start thinking about allergies. Did your symptoms come on all at once or gradually? If you woke up with your throat sore one morning and gradually developed symptoms over the next few days, a cold is more likely. With allergies, all of the symptoms typically present together.

Unfortunately, the color of your mucus is not a good determination. Colds and allergies both typically create clear mucus – if you are producing yellow or green stuff, you likely have an infection. Itchy eyes can be the biggest tell-tale sign. This doesn’t usually accompany a cold, so if the sniffling is combined with uncomfortable eyes, you can usually bet on an allergy.

Get plenty of rest and fluids if you have a cold. See your doctor if you think you have an infection. If you have severe seasonal allergies, you may want to consider allergy shots.