Common Cold, Flu or Allergy: How to Differentiate?

Fever, chills, muscle aches, and a cough. All symptoms of a cold, flu or seasonal allergies appear to be the same. So how do you tell them apart? Here’s some knowledge to help you better understand the indicators, symptoms, and treatments properly.


When a cold virus enters your body, your immune system, your body’s protection against viruses, goes on the offensive. This response causes classic symptoms like a cough or a stuffy nose.

While a cold can be unpleasant, the symptoms are often moderate compared to more aggressive viruses such as the flu. Common cold symptoms may induce any or all of the following point

  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • Coughing (mild)
  • Tiredness (sometimes)
  • Sneezing
  • Eyes that seem to be wet
  • Throat discomfort
  • Migraines (rarely)
  • Pains and aches

The majority of over-the-counter drugs have only minor effects on cold symptoms. A common cold lasts 7 to 10 days on average. Most of the symptoms are produced by our body’s immune system attempting to rid itself of the illness. Most cold viruses will go if we are prepared to give our bodies enough time to fight them. So your immune system is your best line of defence against a regular cold. 


In 2020, getting a flu vaccine is more vital than ever.

Seasonal influenza (flu) is still rampant and typically strikes quickly and furiously. It’s a typical viral respiratory virus that infects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last 5 to 7 days. 

Here are some of the most frequent flu symptoms:

  • High fever and/or chills
  • Coughing (usually dry)
  • Fatigue
  • Pains and aches
  • a stuffy or watery nose (sometimes)
  • Throat discomfort (sometimes)
  • diarrhoea (sometimes in children)

Unlike colds or coronavirus, vaccination is an effective strategy to avoid the flu. If you got a flu vaccine and still got the flu, your symptoms will be milder than if you didn’t get the flu shot. The majority of people who catch the flu recover without medical treatment. Stay at home, drink plenty of fluids, and manage a fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

It is critical to note that antibiotics will not help with viral infections. The infections simply need to take their course in most cases, so it’s best to sit back and watch. If your viral symptoms improve and then worsen unexpectedly a few days later, you should see your doctor, who can determine whether you have a bacterial infection.

Seasonal Allergies.

Allergies are a different story. They are the result of an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body misidentifies harmless substances such as dust or pollen as germs and launches an attack on them. Often during spring, you might be suffering from a runny nose and itchy eyes since the snow began to melt. You could be sick with a cold, but seasonal allergies could also be. Here are some allergy symptoms to watch for:

  • The nose, eyes, throat, sinuses, and ear canals are all itchy.
  • Tiredness (sometimes)
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • a stuffy or runny nose
  • Eyes that seem to be wet
  • Migraines (sometimes)
  • Breathing difficulty

When this happens, your body produces chemicals like histamine, just like it does when you have a cold. This might create swelling in your nasal airways, resulting in sneezing and coughing. Allergies, unlike colds, are not contagious, though some people may inherit a proclivity for them.

Pollen is the most prevalent cause of allergies in the spring. Pollen from many plants floats through the air. Pollen is practically imperceptible to the naked eye, but it can cause havoc on your immune system. If you suffer from springtime allergies, your immune system is producing antibodies to combat the allergens in your body. This causes histamines to be released in your bloodstream, causing symptoms like a runny nose and itchy eyes. On windy days with high pollen counts, you may suffer increased allergy symptoms.

Aside from primary prevention, there are things you may do to assist reduce the symptoms of your spring allergies. Antihistamines and decongestants are over-the-counter allergy medicine to help relieve sneezing, itching, and congestion. A nasal spray that can help ease congestion or ease inflammation in your sinus may potentially provide comfort. Furthermore, eye drops may help soothe itchy or watery eyes.

Wearing a cloth face mask may also help to guard against seasonal allergies. For example, some bigger pollen particles can be avoided by wearing masks. On the other hand, smaller pollen particles will be able to pass through a mask. It’s also vital to wash your mask after each usage because pollen particles can get inside it.


In conclusion, Colds, flu, and allergies all have an impact on your respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe. Each condition has distinguishing symptoms. Read the warnings, adverse effects, and dosages on medication labels carefully. If you have any concerns, consult your doctor or pharmacist, particularly if you have sick children. You would not want to overmedicate, and you also don’t want to take a medicine that might interact with another.

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