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Allergies or the Flu: How to Tell the Difference

November 29, 2018

Sick woman with runny nose lying in bedWhen sniffles, itchy eyes, and sore throat settle in along with the cooler weather, it can be easy to confuse the cause.  Is it the flu, or is it simply allergies?  Fortunately, there are a few ways to easily distinguish between the two and dictate the treatment that will be most effective at bringing relief.

Causes of Allergies vs. Causes of the Flu

There are several important differences between allergies and the flu.  First and foremost is the cause behind each.  Allergies are a reaction to an allergen in an environment.  When the allergen is removed, the symptoms stop.  The flu, however, is the result of a virus which is contagious.

Symptoms of Allergies vs. Symptoms of the Flu

Other primary differences between the flu and allergies can be seen in the symptoms of the two conditions.  While a sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough may accompany either, there are also some distinct differences, particularly when dealing with the flu.  Signs that the influenza virus is responsible include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache and body aches
  • Fatigue

Treatment for Allergies vs. Treatment of the Flu

Finding relief from allergies is often fairly straight forward.  Antihistamines, decongestants, or steroids can help ease any bothersome symptoms.  The flu, on the other hand, is more complicated.  When detected early enough, an antiviral medication may be able to help.  However, in most cases, the illness must simply run its course. 

To help recover more quickly and make yourself more comfortable, it is important to get plenty of fluids and rest while suffering from the flu.  Additionally, over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to help control fever and reduce aches and pains.

If you are dealing with symptoms of allergies or the flu, seeking medical treatment can help you feel better, faster.  Visit an ENT, your general practitioner, or an urgent care clinic to get yourself on the mend.

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