Cold, Allergies, or Flu?

 Your nose is sniffly, you have a slight headache, and you can’t stop sneezing! You are wondering if it’s a cold, allergies, or flu. You are about to discover the truth behind your symptoms, and treatment options to get you back on your feet. 

Colds can affect you during any season of the year but usually occur more often in winter and spring. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults can have 2-3 colds a year, and children may get 3 or more.

The Flu (influenza) typically affects 5-20% of the U.S. population every year.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases


Like colds and the flu, allergies can peak during certain seasons, or cause you grief all year.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) reports that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.

Common Cold and Flu Symptoms

The CDC has a great breakdown of common cold and flu symptoms. I’m not one to re-invent the wheel so to speak, so here is their “Is it a cold or flu?” symptom checker.

cold or flu chart with common symptoms CDC infographic

Most of the symptoms are interchangeable between the flu and a cold, making it difficult to fully decide if it’s one over the other.  

Main differences between cold and flu:

  • Headaches are common with flu and rare with colds
  • Chills are relatively common with flu and uncommon with colds
  • Fever is usual with flu and rare with colds

Colds are usually much milder in severity compared to the flu.

Also, colds generally produce more sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose.

Are we also dealing with allergies?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created the chart below that outlines additional symptoms (now including allergy symptoms) and also provides some treatment options. Check it out!

Cold flu influenza allergies chart with symptoms and treatment options infographic

Chart Highlights For Colds, Allergies, and Flu:

  • Colds 
    • Last roughly 2 weeks
    • Runny/stuffy nose
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
  • Flu 
    • Lasts roughly 2 weeks
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Cough can become severe
    • Chest discomfort
  • Allergies
    • Lasts until you are no longer exposed to the allergen
    • Runny/stuffy nose
    • Sneezing
    • Sometimes symptoms include:
      • Fatigue/weakness
      • Sore throat
      • Cough

Cold and Flu Treatment Options

We have unveiled the symptoms of all three possibilities, we now should know what is causing your symptoms.  I have researched the most common and effective treatments because no one wants to feel miserable from a cold, Allergies, or Flu.

Get plenty of rest

Your body needs to focus on overcoming the illness, rest will allow your immune system to focus on fighting the invader

Stay hydrated 

Hydration is key to all functions in your body including your organs and your immune system.

Staying hydrated helps your body flush out any illness, speeding up your recover


  • Decongestants like Sudafed and Mucinex for a runny or stuffy nose
  • Pain relievers  Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for aches, pains, and fever

Allergy Treatment Options


If you know what you are allergic to (i.e. pollen, dust, mold, dander), avoiding those allergens will help instantly.

Though this isn’t always feasible to avoid allergies, one option is to get a HEPA air purifier, reducing the air allergens and providing relief.

HEPA Air Purifier

In our home, we use the Winix HEPA air purifier and we have had it for almost two years.

We have experienced a reduction in our allergy symptoms as well as a reduction in the number of particles in the air.

It is an extremely quiet product with easy-to-change filters.

The specific model we have is the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA, PlasmaWave, and odor-reducing washable carbon filter.

You can get all the stats and current prices on this air purifier by clicking the image. Here is the link to our full review, “WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review”


Antihistamines aid in reducing the severity of the allergic response, minimizing your symptoms

  • Nasal sprays will help with a runny or stuffy nose and sinus pressure
  • Decongestants (just like with cold and flu)

Colds, Allergies, and Flu have overlapping symptoms that can zap your body and make you feel miserable but rest, hydration, and managing your symptoms can be used for all three.


Cold, allergies, and flu can leave you feeling under the weather, know that you will get better! I hope you are armed with more information to help you determine what is causing your symptoms, and some treatment options to get you back on your feet.

I want to thank you for your support of Feel free to leave a comment, share the post, or send me a message (click here) with any questions you may have.

By Chris

Chris is the creator of Allergy Preventions. As an allergy sufferer himself, his vision is to help others find relief from allergies. By combining his 14 years of Public Health experience, personal experience, and his thirst for knowledge, he is dedicated to providing quality recommendations to assist families with allergy symptom relief.