Is it a Cold, Allergies or the Flu? Know Your Symptoms

Winter is a season filled with sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and even fever. It can be difficult to discern what you’re suffering with; many of these symptoms can be attributed to allergies, a cold and the flu. If you don’t know what you have, how are you supposed to treat it?

Here’s how to tell what winter has thrown at you:

1. Stuffy Nose and Sneezing

If you are afraid to wander too far from your box of tissues, you could be suffering from allergies, a cold or the flu. A stuffy nose and frequent sneezing are symptoms of all three. If you are trying to hazard a guess as to which you may be suffering with, sneezing is more common with a cold than it is with allergies or the flu. A stuffy nose coupled with sneezing fits can be seen with the flu but isn’t as typical. While you can be sure that you’ve caught some kind of bug or something in your environment is bothering you, you’ll have to look at your other symptoms to decide what it is that you should be treating.


2.Sore Throat

A sore throat is never a symptom of allergies and is only sometimes seen with the flu. If you’ve got a sore throat coupled with other symptoms, you can bet that you’ve caught a cold. Remember that there is a difference between a sore throat and a burning throat. If you wake up with your throat feeling like it’s on fire and you have no other symptoms, you may have slept with your mouth open in a too-dry house. If the only thing bothering you is that flame in your throat, consider putting a humidifier in your room.

3.Aching Bones and Muscles

If you are walking through your day feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck, chances are high that you have the flu. Allergies never cause aches and colds rarely do. Ibuprofen or another NSAID can help to alleviate the discomfort that you’re feeling. According to Dr. Yerman of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, a typical cold lasts about four to six days. If your body aches last longer than six days, you can be sure that you need to treat the flu.

4.Fatigue and General Weakness

You know that feeling you get when you’re sick that your legs are too weak to hold you up? If you feel weak or just generally tired, you probably have the flu. If you have weakness associated with other symptoms, you can reliably rule out allergies. While a cold can sometimes produce fatigue and weakness, you shouldn’t feel that way for more than a day or two. You can expect to feel generally tired for a few weeks when you have the flu.


If you take your temperature and you don’t see any rise in normal numbers on your thermometer, you either have allergies or a cold. While a cold may raise your temperature a degree or two, the flu may cause your temperature to soar above 102 degrees. If your temperature lasts for more than a few days or is extremely high, you should visit your doctor. A high fever may be cause for medication that you can’t purchase off of the shelf.

If you hope to treat yourself, you’ve got to know what you have. In general, allergies will only cause you to feel congested within your nose and sinuses. A cold will cause a stuffy nose, sneezing, a mild sore throat and slight fatigue. If you’ve got the flu, you can expect a fever, a headache, body aches and weakness. Don’t hesitate to visit a doctor if you can’t seem to sort out what it is that you have or if the medicine you’ve chosen isn’t working. Your doctor can diagnose you properly and put you on the road to recovery.

Related Posts

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  3. 7 Ways to Get Over Your Cold Faster (link)

About the Author

Michael Winters writes for several health blogs. At you can view their Doctor Videos for valuable information.

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