Stuffy nose. Cough. Sore throat. Is it a cold/flu or allergies? The similarities between the symptoms can cause confusion and misdiagnosis. It can be especially difficult to tell during the fall when cold and flu season is starting and seasonal allergies, from sources like ragweed pollen, are still causing nasal congestion and other flu-like symptoms.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has published a simple guide to help you quickly tell whether your nasal congestion is from a cold/flu or from allergies.
The AAFA also says it helps to remember the following cold/flu and allergy basics:
Flu/Colds: A flu/cold is commonly caused by a virus. You can get a flu/cold from another person that has that virus, even though you may be in good health. This happens when you breathe in germs or come in direct contact with the infected person. To prevent yourself from getting a flu/cold, get a flu shot every year, frequently wash your hands, use a disinfectant, and be careful when sneezing and coughing around others.Let a flu/cold run its course. Get rest, drink lots of fluids and eat healthy foods. Over-the-counter medications, like saline nasal rinses, can help relieve your symptoms.
Allergies: Nasal allergies occur during exposure to an allergen, and your nasal cavity becomes irritated and inflamed. Unlike the flu/cold, allergies are not contagious. If you have a high temperature or an achy body, it is most likely a flu/cold rather than allergies. Common indoor and outdoor allergens include tree, grass and weed pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold and cockroaches.
Have a healthy week!