Cold Flu Or Allergies: How To Tell The Difference
With all of the different viruses, flus and colds going around this time of year it can be difficult to know how to tell the difference between all of these things. Especially if you are taking care of a small child who may have difficulty communicating verbally their symptoms, it can be important to be able to distinguish what might be a simple cold and what might require a little more intervention. Below are some common symptoms of each which should help you decipher just what you or your loved one is suffering from.
A cold usually consists of a sore throat a stuffy nose, some mild tiredness and occasionally sneezing and itchy or watery eyes. You may have some mild aches and pains or a headache but these are not usually severe. Chest coughs may be present as well however these are usually only mild to moderate in severity. Fevers are pretty rare in colds except when it comes to young children. Cold season usually lasts from about August to April. The duration of the cold can be anywhere from seven to ten days.
Influenza on the other hand consists of aches and pains that can be severe. It is common to have chest symptoms as well and these can also become severe. Pneumonia is a common complication of flues. A fever is usually present with the flu and this can range from 102-104 F. The fever may last from three to four days. Headaches are common as is tiredness. Less common are sore throats and stuffy noses. Itchy watery or red eyes are even less commonly associated with influenza. Winter time is the prime flu season lasting up until the end of April in some places. The symptoms of influenza can last up to a month, even while the most severe afflictions might be over in a week. Coughs or tiredness may linger.
Allergies do not cause fever nor is it common for these to cause generalized aches and pains. Chest infections and coughs are also less common with allergies. Allergies are characterized by itchy, red, watery eyes and frequent sneezing. These symptoms may appear suddenly, without the warming sings of a cold. Sore throat is occasionally present as is a stuffy nose. Allergy season is generally from March to September. As long as the allergen is present the allergies can continue to act up.
If symptoms last for longer than a few weeks or are severe such as a very high fever that won’t break especially in young children than medical attention should be sought. Infections often are accompanied with high fevers so if you suspect that it is not flu, cold or allergies you will want to take yourself or your child into a doctor for medical attention. Strep throat for instance starts with a very sore throat with a high temperature.
During the winter months making sure to keep your hands clean, washing them often, and avoiding as much as possible contact with sick people will help protect you from catching flues and colds. If you are sick and think you might be contagion, make sure to stay home until you are feeling better.
While there is no cure for the common cold, a healthy diet and exercise regime will help keep your immune system functioning at optimal level thereby helping your body to resist or fight off any bugs that might come its way. Supplemental vitamin A,C,E and zinc can also be beneficial during this time of year.
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