More often than not, when someone has the sniffles, others quickly assume that they are contagious. However, those sniffles are normally the result of something that is not contagious at all. For those experiencing a runny nose, congestion, and coughing, you may think you have the flu, but these are also signs of allergies. So when the sniffing symptoms hit, how do you tell if it’s allergies, flu, or a sinus problem? Start by asking the following few questions:
1. How long have you been experiencing the symptoms? A cold or flu typically lasts around 7 to 10 days.
2. Do you have a fever? Even though allergies may result in symptoms like low-grade fever, they are never accompanied by a high fever (over 38.9 degrees Fahrenheit or 102 degrees Fahrenheit).
3. Do you have a headache? Are you congested or sniffling, or do you feel a strain in your eyes? This could be a symptom of a sinus issue.
Then check the following common symptoms and see how frequently they occur:
As per the Mayo Clinic, there are over 100 different kinds of cold viruses. So while the severity and symptoms may differ, colds usually share some of the same basic characteristics.
1. A sore throat, cough, a runny, stuffy nose
2. Itchy eyes and sneezing are less common symptoms
3. Recovery is normally quick – the NIAID estimates that the average duration is a week to 10 days.
5. Body or muscle aches
7. Vomiting or diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
Allergies ensue when your immune system has a negative reaction to specific substances. Upon exposure to certain triggers, the immune system discharges chemicals known as histamines. Even though intended to combat perceived intruders, the histamine release is actually what leads to allergy symptoms.
1. Some symptoms of allergies are similar to flu, like a sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and coughing
2. In allergies, sore throat is most typically caused by postnasal drip
3. Allergies can also lead to itchy eyes and rashes
4. Body aches and high fevers are not symptoms of an allergy
Seasonal allergies are the most common, but you may also be allergic to certain substances throughout the year, which may include:
· Dust Mites
· Pollen from weeds, grasses or trees
· Animal Dander
· Foods (like tree nuts, eggs, milk, etc)
Treating Flu and Allergies
Flu symptoms can wreak havoc, from a cough and fever to nasal congestion. For quick relief, turning to effective treatments, such as Cold-Fix, are the best way to go.
For treating allergies, antihistamines (such as Benadryl, Allegra, and Zyrtec) fall first in line as effective solutions. They work by obstructing histamine reactions to allergens thus reducing the symptoms. Antihistamines do have the tendency to make you feel drowsy, so either look for a non-drowsy formula or take the medication right before going to bed.
In serious cases, an allergist might recommend a decongestant to help ease sinus congestion caused by allergy symptoms. They work by breaking up the congestion and then drying the sinuses. Humidifiers and saline sprays can also help alleviate certain symptoms of allergy.