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Is your runny nose cough, sore throat, allergies or the flu?

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 11:45:23-04

A lot of us have been sneezing, coughing, and dealing with congestion, but are those symptoms related to seasonal allergies or the flu?

One thing to keep in mind…allergies typically do not lead to a fever.

The flu season ended a couple of months ago which then started allergy season. This has caused some people to be confused as to whether or not they have allergies or the flu.

“The symptoms between allergies and a cold are very similar. They will both have sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, pain in the ear, maybe some shortness of breath, and a cough,” said Amistad Community Health Center internal medicine physician Dr. Jacqueline Phillips.

There are some ways in which you can tell whether you may have allergies or the flu.

“One of the things that will tell us that it's allergies versus a cold or bacterial illness is the length of time you have had your symptoms. So, if you always have a cold, or you always have the flu or always having similar symptoms with no resolution, it is likely that it is probably chronic allergies,” said Phillips.

Allergy symptoms occur when a person's immune system overreacts and tries to fight off a harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander.

“The other thing is that if you know you have a food allergy, obviously you need to practice avoidance, and it’s a lit bit more difficult if it’s pet allergy or dander allergy because everybody loves their pets, but make sure you frequently clean the areas they are in, and if you can avoid contact, avoid contact,” said Phillips.

Because each allergy has a different underlying cause, it is essential that a person receives the right diagnosis so that they can get the best treatment.

“Allergies can usually be treated with over-the-counter remedies. For instance, you would be able to go and purchase a nasal steroid such Flonase or Nasonex over the counter, and you can also take oral decongestants such as Claritin or Allegra,” said Phillips.

Allergies might make you miserable, but they typically don't cause a fever. If you have itchy, watery eyes, it's a strong sign that you're dealing with allergies, not a virus. If your symptoms last more than a week visit your physician.

You can treat colds and flu with plenty of rest and by drinking lots of fluids.

Pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil) can reduce fever and aches.

Symptoms associated with a cold or flu may include:

• sneezing
• coughing
• runny nose
• congestion
• fever
• stomach pains
• body aches

A fever is the body's way of trying to increase the temperature to kill off bacteria or viruses. Because these germs are not present in an allergic reaction, a fever does not occur.

Common allergy triggers include:

• Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold
• Certain foods, particularly peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk
• Insect stings, such as from a bee or wasp
• Medications, particularly penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics
• Latex or other substances you touch, which can cause allergic skin reactions