With mold high from recent rains and flu season underway, how do you know whether you’re sick or have allergies? Allergies, common colds and the flu have similar symptoms but are treated differently. The Texas A&M University College of Nursing offers these clues:
Do you have full body aches? Itchy eyes, a runny nose or congestion could be allergies, a cold or the flu. But if you’ve got deep aches in your legs, back or other large muscles, it’s probably the flu. Extreme fever and severe exhaustion also probably mean the flu.
Do you have a fever? Then it’s not allergies. (Cedar fever is a colloquialism that doesn’t bring on an actual fever.) If there is no major muscle soreness, extreme fever (body temperature of more than 101 degrees) or severe exhaustion, it’s probably a cold. A cold comes with a variety of symptoms, including mild fatigue; fever; cough; a sore throat; a triple combo of congestion, runny nose and sneezing; watery eyes and nose; and a congested nose, head and chest.
When is it allergies? If it’s just coughing, itchy eyes, congestion or sneezing, without any of the aches and fever symptoms, it’s probably allergies. Even if you haven’t had allergies before, you can develop them anytime in life.
In all cases, staying hydrated helps. A cold should heal on its own in a few days, provided you get some rest. The flu probably warrants a trip to the doctor, according to the A&M experts. Nasal rinsing can help with allergies. But if it’s cedar fever, don’t expect miracles. Life is probably going to be miserable for a while.
— Marty Toohey, American-Statesman staff