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.

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Common Cold and Flu Symptoms

The CDC has a great breakdown of common cold and flu symptoms. I’m not one to reinvent 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
CDC.gov

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.

Cold, Allergies, and Flu Symptoms Compared

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
National Institutes of Health

Chart of Colds, Allergies, and Flu Symptoms

Colds

  • Lasts roughly 2 weeks
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat

Flu

  • Lasts roughly 2 weeks
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough (may be severe)
  • Chest discomfort

Allergies

  • Can last longer than 2 weeks
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • 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

Resting when you have a cold or the flu is important because it allows your body to focus its energy on fighting the infection rather than on other activities. It also helps keep your body hydrated, and can help reduce the length of your cold.

Stay Hydrated 

When you are sick, your body is fighting off an infection, and it needs all the help it can get. Staying hydrated will help your body flush out the toxins and fight off the infection.

Dehydration can make you feel tired and weak, which will only make you feel worse. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help your body heal.

Medications

Medications can help ease the symptoms of a cold by relieving congestion, fighting infection, and soothing a sore throat.

Decongestants can clear nasal passages and help you breathe easier. Antihistamines can relieve a runny nose and sneezing. Pain relievers can help with a headache or a fever. Cough suppressants can quiet a cough.

Allergy Treatment Options

Avoidance 

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

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

Here is the link to our full review if you are interested, “WINIX PlasmaWave 5500-2 True HEPA Air Purifier Review”.

Medications

Allergy medications work by preventing the release of histamines in the body. Histamines are responsible for many of the symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing and a runny nose.

Allergy medications work by blocking the histamine receptors, which prevents the histamines from being released. This helps to relieve the symptoms of allergies.

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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.