Flu/ Cold or do you have Allergies?
Cough. Sneeze. Wheeze. You know the symptoms, but do you really know the cause? The similarities between symptoms of the flu or cold and nasal allergies (also called allergic rhinitis, indoor or outdoor allergies, seasonal allergies or hay fever) can cause confusion. Worse, it can cause you to make the wrong diagnosis and treat with the wrong medications. And, if allergies are left untreated, it can cause more serious conditions like sinusitis or ear infections.
What are the differences between the two?
|Symptoms||Allergies usually cause runny nose (clear discharge), stuffed nose, violent sneezing, and wheezing, coughing, watery and itchy eyes.||Flu/cold usually includes runny nose (yellow discharge), aches and pains, sore and scratchy throat along with sneezing and coughing.|
|Fever||There is no fever with allergies.||If you have a fever it is almost certainly a flu/cold rather than allergies.|
|When||Anytime of the year: spring, summer, fall or winter.||Usually appear in winter, but are also possible in the fall, spring or summer.|
|Warning||Symptoms begin almost immediately after exposure to allergens.||Usually takes a few days for flu/cold symptoms to appear.|
|Duration||Symptoms last a long time, as long you are exposed to the allergen. If the allergen is present all year long, symptoms can be chronic.||Flu/cold symptoms should clear up within a few days to a week. Rarely lasts more than 10 days.|
Flu or Cold
A flu or cold is commonly caused by a virus. You can get a flu or cold from another person that has that virus, even though you may be in good health. This happens when you breathe in germs or come in direct contact with the infected person. To prevent yourself from getting a flu or cold, get a flu shot every year, frequently wash your hands, use a disinfectant on and be careful when sneezing and coughing around others.
Let a flu or cold run its course. Get rest, drink lots of fluids and eat healthy foods. Over-the-counter medications, like a decongestant or nasal sprays, can help relieve your symptoms, but they do not cure your cold – only time can do that.
Nasal allergies occur during exposure to an allergen, and your nasal cavity becomes irritated and inflamed. Unlike the flu or cold, allergies are not contagious. If you have a high temperature or an achy body, it is most likely a flu or cold rather than allergies. Common indoor and outdoor allergens include tree, grass and weed pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold and cockroaches.
There is no cure for allergies, but there are prescription and over-the-counter medications treat allergy symptoms. For some people, allergy shots (immunotherapy), can help to reduce your sensitivity to allergens over time. Come see us for a personalized treatment plan for you.
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