Senior man wears a mask while visting with his doctor.

Allergies vs. Flu Symptoms: How to Tell What You’re Dealing With

October 22, 2020 | Wellness

It’s a late October day and you suddenly find yourself sneezing frequently and trying to tame a scratchy, sore throat. Is this the start of a miserable case of the flu? It is the beginning of flu season, after all. However, your symptoms could just be seasonal allergies. How can you tell if you’re dealing with the flu or allergies?

While some symptoms of seasonal allergies and the flu overlap, there are key differences between the two that can help all seniors identify what they’re dealing with.

Allergies vs. Flu Symptoms

Distinguishing between allergy and flu symptoms can be challenging, as both affect your respiratory system and share similar symptoms. However, a key difference is that the flu is caused by a virus, while allergies are not. Because the flu is caused by a virus, it tends to present symptoms that are more severe.

Common symptoms associated with the flu include:

  • Fever (usually between 100-102 degrees)
  • Headache
  • Aches and pains (sometimes severe)
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough (can become severe)
  • Sore throat
  • Chest discomfort

These symptoms usually come on quickly, last 1-2 weeks, and can be treated with rest, fluids, over-the-counter medications and prescription antiviral drugs. Make sure you read the medicine labels carefully and consult a doctor or pharmacist with questions.

While seasonal allergies can trigger similar symptoms as the flu, they typically aren’t as severe and don’t accompany a fever. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness (sometimes)
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

Seasonal allergy symptoms usually last as long as allergens are present. A few of the most common allergens include pollen, dust, and pet dander. You can treat and manage allergies with antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroids. If your symptoms go away with antihistamines or when the allergen is no longer present, you’re most likely dealing with seasonal allergies and not the flu.

Flu vs. COVID-19 Symptoms

As if allergies and the flu aren’t enough to worry about, this year we find ourselves also dealing with the lingering threat of the COVID-19 virus. As opposed to the flu that is caused by the influenza virus, COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 tends to last longer than the flu, with symptoms appearing anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines the following as symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

While there is a vaccine to protect against the flu, there currently is no vaccine to prevent people from contracting COVID-19. The best way to protect against the virus is to wear a mask, social distance,and stay away from people who are sick. If you experience flu-like symptoms, testing may be required to help you determine if you have COVID-19 or the seasonal flu.

CC Young Offers a Safe, Healthy Environment for Residents

CC Young is taking stringent precautions to keep residents and staff members safe and healthy during this time. We are closely monitoring area statistics for new cases and hospitalizations, so we can appropriately adjust our safety protocols.

Contact us today to learn more about the steps we have taken to maintain resident and staff member safety throughout the pandemic and during flu season.

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