As flu season dies down and allergy season approaches, you may start showing symptoms of either allergies, the common cold, or the flu. They have similar symptoms but obvious differences. Allow us to explain the difference between the three conditions:
Allergies occur because your immune system is reacting to an allergen, releasing histamine to attack the invader. Histamine causes your body to produce symptoms such as clear or watery mucus, itchy or watery eyes, a gritty feeling in your eyes, sneezing, or congestion. To determine if your symptoms are allergy-related, ask yourself these questions:
- Are my symptoms staying the same?
- Have I had these symptoms for more than 10 days?
- Are there certain locations my symptoms get worse?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, it’s likely you’re suffering from allergies, not the common cold or flu. When you’re dealing with allergies, your symptoms don’t morph into worsening symptoms (i.e. like they would with the flu), your symptoms may last several weeks, and certain places can make symptoms worse (i.e. next to a blossoming tree or inside a home with a dog).
Common Cold & Flu
The common cold and flu occur when your body tries to kill a virus that has entered your body. It will produce symptoms such as a cough, fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, and stuffy nose. To determine if your symptoms are common cold or flu-related, not allergies, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I experiencing different symptoms every few days?
- Are my symptoms getting better after 7 – 10 days?
- Do I have a fever?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions, it’s likely you’re suffering from the common cold or the flu, not allergies. When you’re dealing with the common cold or the flu, your symptoms may fluctuate, your symptoms will dissipate after 7 – 10 days, and you may have a fever. (Note – a fever is not associated with allergies.)
Treatment Options for Allergies, the Common Cold, & the Flu
Fortunately, allergies can be completely eliminated from your body. Dr. Brauer will conduct an allergy test to determine which allergen is causing your immune system to overreact. Afterward, she will discuss which treatment option is best for your specific situation – medication or immunotherapy. Immunotherapy targets the root of the problem and will teach your immune system to stop overreacting upon contact with the allergen.
The common cold does not have any treatments available except for a little TLC. Rest, take it easy, and your body will fight off the virus. If you have the flu, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug to lessen your symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by a few days. With both the common cold and the flu, your body must fight off these viruses to eradicate it from your body.