What is the difference between cold flu and allergies

Cold, Flu, or Allergy?

Know the Difference for Best Treatment

You’re feeling beautiful lousy. You’ve got sniffles, sneezing, and a sore throat. Is it a freezing, flu, or allergies? It can be hard to tell them apart because they share so numerous symptoms. But understanding the differences will assist you select the best treatment.

“If you know what you own, you won’t take medications that you don’t need, that aren’t effective, or that might even make your symptoms worse,” says NIH’s Dr.

Teresa Hauguel, an expert on infectious diseases that affect breathing.

Cold, flu, and allergy every affect your respiratory systemThe body parts that assist you breathe, including your nose, throat, and lungs., which can make it hard to breathe. Each condition has key symptoms that set them apart.

Colds and flu are caused by diverse viruses.

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

“As a law of thumb, the symptoms associated with the flu are more severe,” says Hauguel. Both illnesses can lead to a runny, stuffy nose; congestion; cough; and sore throat. But the flu can also cause high fever that lasts for 3-4 days, along with a headache, fatigue, and general aches and pain. These symptoms are less common when you own a cold.

“Allergies are a little diverse, because they aren’t caused by a virus,” Hauguel explains. “Instead, it’s your body’s immune systemProtects your body from invading germs and other microscopic threats.

reacting to a trigger, or allergen, which is something you’re allergic to.” If you own allergies and breathe in things love pollen or pet dander, the immune cells in your nose and airways may overreact to these harmless substances. Your delicate respiratory tissues may then swell, and your nose may become stuffed up or runny.

“Allergies can also cause itchy, watery eyes, which you don’t normally own with a freezing or flu,” Hauguel adds.

Allergy symptoms generally final as endless as you’re exposed to the allergen, which may be about 6 weeks during pollen seasons in the spring, summer, or drop.

Colds and flu rarely final beyond 2 weeks.

Most people with a freezing or flu recover on their own without medical care. But check with a health care provider if symptoms final beyond 10 days or if symptoms aren’t relieved by over-the-counter medicines. For more about when to see a doctor, go to CDC’s Flu Page.

To treat colds or flu, get plenty of relax and drink lots of fluids. If you own the flu, pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can reduce fever or aches. Allergies can be treated with antihistamines or decongestants. See the “Wise Choices” box for more details.

Be careful to avoid “drug overlap” when taking medicines that list 2 or more athletic ingredients on the label.

For example, if you take 2 diverse drugs that contain acetaminophen—one for a stuffy nose and the other for headache—you may be getting too much acetaminophen.

“Read medicine labels carefully—the warnings, side effects, dosages. If you own questions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you own children who are sick,” Hauguel says. “You don’t desire to overmedicate, and you don’t desire to risk taking a medication that may interact with another.”

Symptoms Cold Flu Airborne Allergy
Fever Rare Usual, high (100-102 °F), sometimes higher, especially in young children); lasts 3-4 days Never
Headache Uncommon Common Uncommon
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe Never
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual, can final up to 3 weeks Sometimes
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual, at the beginning of the illness Never
Stuffy, Runny Nose Common Sometimes Common
Sneezing Usual Sometimes Usual
Sore Throat Common Sometimes Sometimes
Cough Common Common, can become severe Sometimes
Chest Discomfort Mild to moderate Common Rare, except for those with allergic asthma
Treatment Get plenty of rest.
Stay hydrated.

(Drink plenty of fluids.)
Aspirin (ages 18 and up), acetaminophen, or ibuprofen for aches and pains

Get plenty of rest.
Stay hydrated.
Aspirin (ages 18 and up), acetaminophen, or ibuprofen for aches, pains, and fever
Antiviral medicines (see your doctor)
Avoid allergens (things that you’re allergic to)
Nasal steroids
Prevention Wash your hands often.
Avoid shut contact with anyone who has a cold.
Get the flu vaccine each year.
Wash your hands often.
Avoid shut contact with anyone who has the flu.
Avoid allergens, such as pollen, home dust mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches.
Complications Sinus infection middle ear infection, asthma Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening Sinus infection, middle ear infection, asthma

How numerous times own you dismissed sniffles as "just a cold," and carried on with a stuffed nose and sinuses assuming that the symptoms would eventually run their course, perhaps a bit more quickly with a few doses of Mom’s homemade chicken soup?

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

Influenza is another tale. The common freezing eventually fizzles, but the flu may be deadly. Some 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and 36,000 die each year from flu complications — and that pales in comparison to the flu pandemic of 1918 that claimed between 20 and 100 million lives. The best defense against it: a vaccine. Yet barely 30 percent of 4,000 U.S. adults surveyed said they’d been inoculated this season, despite a record supply of flu shots, according to a new RAND Corp.

survey. (GlaxoSmithKline, which makes flu vaccine, helped pay for the survey.)

So what is the difference between a freezing and the flu – and how can you be certain which one you have?

We asked Jonathan Field, director of the allergy and asthma clinic at N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Following is an edited transcript of our interview with him.

What causes the flu?

How is it diverse from a cold?

The flu is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus, a respiratory virus. The common freezing is also a viral infection caused by the adenovirus or coronavirus and there are numerous, numerous subsets with a lot of variability. That’s why it’s said there’s no cure for the common freezing [and] there’s no genuine vaccine. The flu is known to be from influenza and is preventable with vaccination.

Colds tend to produce runny nose, congestion, sore throat. Influenza is more pronounced in that it infects the lungs, the joints and causes pneumonia, respiratory failure and even death.

It tends to infect the intestinal tract more in kids, with diarrhea and vomiting. Because of the relative immaturity of the gut, they may absorb more virus and that wreaks more havoc on the intestines. Flu causes epidemics and pandemics with the potential for mortality, whereas the common freezing is a nuisance for us.

How can someone who’s feeling ill distinguish between freezing and flu, or an allergy?

Flu typically starts in early November and can go until March. The peak time is now — November to January. Allergy is typical in spring or drop, and freezing more so in winter.

The body can reply in only so numerous ways, but there are things you can use to differentiate.

Allergic symptoms are similar to those of a freezing, but [result from] your immune system responding to something benign. Generally there’s no fever, and there’s an allergic manifestation of itch in the back of the throat or the ears. It’s unlikely with allergy to own body aches. With a freezing, there’s sometimes a low-grade fever.

You can tell the difference by the length and severity of the illness and whether you’ve had a similar experience in the past. Both colds and flu generally final the same seven to 10 days, but flu can go three to four weeks; the flu virus may not still be there, but you own symptoms endless after it’s left.

Allergy can final weeks or months.

Are the treatments for these illnesses different?

For any of these things, if it affects the nose or sinus, just rinsing with saline that gets the mucus and virus out is a first-line defense. It’s not the most pleasant thing to do, but it works extremely well. There are classes of medicines that can assist the flu — Tamiflu and Relenza — antivirals that block viruses’ ability to reproduce and shorten the length and severity of the illness.

But they own to be taken within 48 hours or the cat is proverbially out if the bag [because by then] the virus has done the most of its reproduction. For a freezing or flu, relax and use decongestants and antihistamines, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, chicken soup and fluids.

Zinc supposedly helps the body’s natural defenses work to their natural capacity and decrease the severity and length of a freezing.

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

Cells need zinc as a catalyst in their protective processes, so if you supply them with zinc, it helps them work more efficiently. You should also withhold iron supplements. Viruses use iron as part of their reproductive cycle, so depriving them of it blocks their dissemination.

The majority of these infections are not bacterial and do not require [nor will they reply to] antibiotics. My law of thumb is that a viral infection should go away in seven to 10 days. If symptoms persist after that, you’d consider if it’s bacteria love Strep or Haemophilus influenzae. Those bacteria cause illnesses that are longer lasting.

Is that treatment approach the same for kids?

In general, the same rules apply: Most children will own six to eight colds a year in their first three years of life, and most are viral. It’s extremely simple to test for strep and for that you should own a [positive] culture [before treating with antibiotics].

Are the strategies for avoiding freezing and flu different?

Avoidance is extremely similar: Strict hand washing, not sharing drinking cups or utensils, and avoiding direct contact with people who are sneezing. As endless as someone has a fever, they own the possibility to transmit infection.

After they’ve had no fever for 24 hours, they’re not infectious.

The U.S.

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that just about everyone get the flu shot: kids 6 months to 19 years of age, pregnant women, people 50 and up, and people of any age with compromised immune systems. Is the shot beneficial to anyone who gets it?

Unless you own a contraindication, there’s no reason not to get it. Contraindications would include egg allergy (because the vaccine is grown from egg products), any vaccines within a final week or two, and athletic illness at the time of your vaccine.

Resources We Love

Best Flu Vaccination Information

CDC (Vaccine Safety)

The CDC’s flu vaccine sheet provides up-to-date information on approved influenza vaccines, along with potential side effects.

National Vaccine Information Center

This independent nonprofit provides extensive information on vaccine science and includes research on the effectiveness of specific vaccines.


This U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services site educates the public on various vaccine-preventable illnesses, including influenza. The flu section of the site includes basic information about the flu vaccine and a search tool to assist you discover places to get vaccinated in your area.

Best Information for Colds

Mayo Clinic

The website offers information that will assist you determine whether your symptoms are related to a freezing and when you need to see a doctor, and offers preventive tips that may assist you avoid getting sick.

National Library of Medicine

The common freezing section of the MedlinePlus website provides comprehensive information on the causes and symptoms of the common freezing, as well as links to information on how to determine whether you are suffering from a freezing, the flu, or an allergy.

It also includes information on potential treatments and therapies.

Best Resources for Parents


This American Academy of Pediatrics site focuses on how to identify flu symptoms in your children, the potential treatments, and preventive tips.

KidsHealth.org (Flu)

This website’s flu section offers basic educational and preventive information on keeping your family healthy and how to treat a child’s flu symptoms.

KidsHealth.org (Colds)

The KidsHealth site also has a sheet dedicated to providing general information on common freezing treatments for kids and potential complications.

Favorite Organizations for Essential Information

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

ACOG’s website Immunization for Women prioritizes providing patients and healthcare providers with a trusted source for the most up-to-date recommendations and guidelines on treating seasonal influenza and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

It also provides a searchable ob-gyn directory.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC’s website presents weekly updates on flu activity nationwide. The site details how the flu may be spreading in each state and which strains of the virus are most prominent. It also contains useful guidelines for the most current treatments and vaccinations.

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID)

Founded in 1973, the NFID is a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public and healthcare providers about infectious diseases. Its influenza web sheet provides basic information about the flu and links to sections about influenza in vulnerable segments of the population, such as children and the elderly.

State Health Departments

Thanks to this search function on the CDC’s website, you can locate your state health department, which can then assist you discover direct access to your county’s health department.

Your local health department will likely provide updated information on flu activity in your area, as well as information on how to access vaccinations.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO’s global influenza website provides worldwide surveillance information on flu outbreaks and what prevention efforts are taking put. It also provides information from its conferences regarding future strategies to combat the flu.

Best Apps for Combating the Flu


The CDC’s FluView app allows you to track flu activity by region, which can also be helpful if you plan on traveling.


Type in your location, your reason for seeing a doctor, and your insurance carrier and Zocdoc will assist you book a doctor’s appointment in your area.

Find more apps to assist you fight the flu here.

What Are Allergies?

If you own allergies, your immune system mistakes a substance that is ordinarily harmless to most people as a threat and goes into defense mode. These substances, that can come from sources love pollen, pet dander, mold and dust mites are called allergens. Your allergies are not contagious.

Important information

You should not use Benadryl to make a kid sleepy.

When taking Benadryl, use caution driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities.

Diphenhydramine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol may increase drowsiness and dizziness while taking Benadryl.

Do not give this medication to a kid younger than 2 years ancient. Always enquire a doctor before giving a cough or freezing medicine to a child. Death can happen from the misuse of cough and freezing medicines in extremely young children.

What is a Cold?

A freezing happens when a virus makes its way into your body. Your immune system responds to this foreign invader by attacking the virus.

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

Some of the freezing symptoms, love runny nose and nasal congestion, can feel a lot love allergies so it can be hard to tell the difference. A freezing is contagious. You can catch it when someone with a freezing sneezes, coughs or touches you.1 2


Generic Name:diphenhydramine (DYE fen HYE dra meen)

Medically reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD Final updated on Dec 18, 2018.

Study Some of the Differences Between Allergies and a Freezing

While colds and allergies can own similar symptoms, here are some questions to assist you tell if you need to reach for a Claritin® product or curl up with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and binge watch your favorite shows:


How endless own you had symptoms?

Colds typically run their course within 7-10 days.

What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

Allergy symptoms can final weeks or months, and will be present as endless as you are exposed to the allergen. If your freezing symptoms final longer than 10 days, talk to your doctor.


What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

What color and texture is your mucus?

Runny nose and sneezing are common symptoms of both colds and allergies. But you can often tell the difference by looking at the color and texture of your mucus. If you own allergies, your mucus will typically be clear, thin and watery. If you own a freezing, the mucus from coughing or sneezing may be thick and yellow or green. Yellow or green mucus could indicate an infection requiring medical attention.

4. Do you own body aches and pains?

Colds may come with slight body aches and pains. Allergies are not generally associated with body aches and pains.

1. How quickly did your symptoms strike?

Allergy symptoms tend to hit every at once when you come into contact with an allergen.

Symptoms of a freezing generally appear one at a time and develop slowly over a few days.


What is the difference between freezing flu and allergies

What time of year is it?

Colds are more common during the winter months,but could also happen any time of the year. Indoor allergies can happen year-round and outdoor seasonal allergies are more common in the spring through drop when pollen counts are high.1

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What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body.

Histamine can produce symptoms of sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.

Benadryl is used to treat sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, itching, and other freezing or allergy symptoms.

Benadryl is also used to treat motion sickness, to induce sleep, and to treat certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.