You’re not feeling good. You’re coughing, sneezing and your throat is feeling a little sore. You know you’re coming down with something but what is it? Flu? Cold? Allergy? It can get pretty confusing trying to distinguish between the three apart since they share so many symptoms –but to treat the problem, you must first understand the illness you’re dealing with.
The answer is in the symptoms.
The flu, cold and allergies each affect the respiratory system which is why they share similar symptoms. But understanding the symptom and the degree of the symptom can help you set the conditions apart.
Is it the Flu?
The flu is the big beast. The condition is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It tends to have symptoms more severe than the rest –it can even be life-threatening in some cases. This makes it very important to identify and treat.The peak of flu season occurs anywhere between late November and March.
Flu Symptoms: They usually last between 1-2 weeks. High fever or feeling feverish chills is a major indication that you’ve been hit by the Flu bug. The fever can last between 3-4 days and that commonly comes along with headache, fatigue, body aches, coughs and a sore throat.
Treatment: It’s important to get plenty of rest during the flu and to keep hydrated. Aspirin, Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen can all be used to ease the symptoms. Fever antiviral medicine also helps but it is not an OTC drug (see your doctor). Getting the flu vaccine every year can prevent you from catching the virus.
What about a Cold?
Colds aren’t as big and bad as the flu but they still pack a punch. Like the flu, colds are caused by viruses but it’s not the same type.
Cold Symptoms: They tend to include stuffy/runny nose; sore throat and coughing. To distinguish it from the flu, know that symptoms like high fever, fatigue and severe aches and pains are less common with colds. It can also last up to 2 weeks.
Treatment: Make sure you get a lot of rest and stay hydrated. Decongestants, Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can be taken to ease some of the cold symptoms.
Can it be Allergies?
Unlike the other two, allergic rhinitis isn’t caused by a virus –they’re caused by allergens. These allergens cause the body’s immune system to overact. Allergic Rhinitis mainly affects the respiratory system causing.
Cold Symptoms: They include stuffy/runny nose and itchy/watery eyes. Coughing, sneezing and fatigue are all possible symptoms as well. They tend to last as long as you’re exposed to the allergen, which could be about 6 weeks during pollen seasons: spring, summer, and fall.
Treatment: Avoiding allergens is the best way lessen the symptoms. Antihistamines, nasal steroids, decongestants are recommended. To better manage the symptoms, consult an Allergist to understand what allergen is causing the problems.
Knowing what you have can prevent you from taking unnecessary medications or taking medications that can worsen your symptoms.