Seasonal Allergies vs. Cold or Flu Symptoms

By March 31, 2017General Health

Spring is Allergy Season

Spring is here and that means the dreaded seasonal change that brings allergies and the constant wonder if you’re becoming sick or just dealing with allergies. It is important to know the difference between seasonal allergies vs. cold of flu symptoms. March and April are strange times during Spring. They sit on the very tail end of flu season and the very beginning of allergy season. This can make it hard to tell if you are actually sick and possibly have a cold, or if you just need some allergy medicine and a tissue.

If you are unaware of what you have, you may take medicines that won’t help alleviate your symptoms or medicines that you don’t necessarily need and can potentially make you worse. It is a good idea to identify the symptoms of a cold, the flu or allergies early on so you can know what steps to take.
Both cold and allergies affect the respiratory system, luckily though, each has a few unique characteristics to help you decide which route of action to take. Let’s go over them.

Allergy Symptoms

According to WebMD, allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. This means that your body goes into attack mode to fight off what it thinks is harmful. Some allergy triggers are pollen from grasses, weeds and trees, dust mites, animal dander, and mold. Allergies are not contagious and the symptoms get better when you get treatment or remove the trigger.
Some common allergy symptoms include: congestion, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, rashes, and itchy or watery eyes.

Cold Symptoms

A cold, is a virus that attacks and weakens your immune system. Different from an allergy, you can get a cold anytime of the year from a person that is sick. Common symptoms are cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue. If you have a fever, then may have gotten an infection. Cold symptoms usually will last one or two weeks.

Flu Symptoms

The flu virus is contagious unlike allergies. Flu symptoms will come on quickly and be more severe as well. Some common symptoms of flu are: runny and stuffy nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, general aches and pains, muscle pain, and fever.

The Difference

The biggest difference between the flu and allergies is fever.  Allergies will not have general aches and pains like the cold or flu, and allergies will not give you extreme exhaustion and very rarely would cause fatigue. Allergies will typically last as long as you stay exposed to what your body is allergic to. This is roughly a six week time period during the Spring.
Outside of a visit with a health professional to help treat a cold or the flu, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids (especially water and electrolytes like Gatorade) and get lots of rest. Take aspirin, fever reducers or ibuprofen when necessary. For allergies, try and avoid things you are allergic to, start your Spring cleaning early to clear out dust mites and pollen that might be in your house, and look for nasal decongestants.

We hope this article was helpful in helping differentiate allergies and the cold or flu! Spring means that it is also Hiking Season – learn more about Hiking and Heat Stroke in our next blog.

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