Allergies Common Cold Flu Or Covid
- By Anna R. Wolfson, MD, Contributor
With so many of us wrestling with fears and unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, every throat tickle, nose drip, or cough is suspect: do I have coronavirus? By now, we all know that COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, can cause severe, life-threatening symptoms, although the majority of people who have it will experience a mild to moderate version.
Of course, it is spring, so many people may be experiencing their annual springtime tree pollen allergies. Colds also remain common, just as was true before the coronavirus. And although influenza season is coming to an end, perhaps youve wondered if some of your symptoms could be the flu. Below, Ive explained key symptoms to help you distinguish these illnesses and take action as needed.
Dont Freak Out If Allergies Get Worse
Due to fluctuations in pollen levels every year, its totally normal if your allergies are mild one year and then worse the next, Rampur says.
But what if youve never had seasonal allergies before and you suddenly get them? This is also common.
First, if youve recently moved to the area, you could develop allergies as your immune system adjusts to the new pollens youre exposed to. Typically how this works is your allergies wont develop until your second or third year in a new place, Ayars says.
If other people in your family have allergies, its possible you will develop them at some point, too. While its more common for allergies to begin developing in childhood or ones teenaged years, Ayars still sees plenty of patients who start getting a new allergy in adulthood.
Another thing that could make you more susceptible to seasonal allergies is having another medical condition linked to your immune system, such as asthma or eczema.
When To Seek A Professional Diagnosis And Treatment
If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID, or have reason to believe you may have COVID , you should seek guidance from a healthcare professional right away.
Testing guidelines in terms of who should be tested and when can vary and are updated as more information becomes available. Stay up to date by regularly checking the CDC testing guidelines.
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If Youre Still Unsure Ask Yourself These Questions:
What are your initial symptoms?
Runny nose and itchy eyes? Allergies. Aching muscles but no fever? It could be the flu. As for COVID-19, expect symptoms similar to the flu, but with fever coming on strong .
When did your symptoms start?
Seasonal allergies tend to come on gradually over a series of days or a week, since allergens are increasing every day, with trees budding and pollen spreading. The flu, however, tends to come on suddenly, and norovirus is even faster. Theres still much to learn about COVID-19, but current reports suggest that it begins slower than the flutypically with a fever first followed by the symptoms mentioned above between two and 14 days after exposure.
Are symptoms getting progressively worse?
You should hit a plateau with allergies, although that can drag on for months. With a flu or COVID-19, youre looking at around a week to 10 days with a milder case. But if your symptoms are worsening, you may be headed for pneumonia with the flu or respiratory distress with coronavirus. In either of those cases, seek medical attention.
Have you been traveling?
If you think you have COVID-19, youre likely to be asked if you or someone you have direct contact with has been travelingespecially to hot spots where the virus is prevalent, like China or Italyor if youve been on a cruise.
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Allergies: Runny Nose + Itchy Eyes
Welcome to spring, and its many sources of potential allergens, including budding trees, grasses, and pollen. When youre allergic, that kicks off a major immune response designed to flush out your system, according to Omid Mehdizadeh, M.D., otolaryngologist and laryngologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
You might develop a cough when you have allergies, a result of post-nasal drip, which means some of the mucus that accumulates in the sinus passages trickles down through the back of your throat. Dr. Mehdizadeh adds that you may even experience the opposite problem, where your nose gets congested, along with sneezing, headaches, and red, itchy, or puffy eyes. Skin rashes may also occur in some people.
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Heres How The Omicron Variant Of Covid
CINCINNATI – Cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been rising, now accounting for 73% of new infections last week, federal health officials said Monday.
Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown nearly a six-fold increase in omicrons share of infections in only one week, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
While the CDC says its still unknown how rapidly omicron spreads as compared to the delta variant of the virus, it will likely spread more rapidly than the original strain of COVID-19.
Its possible to get the omicron variant even if youre vaccinated, but you are less likely to experience severe illness, hospitalization, and death, however, breakthrough infections are still likely to occur, according to the CDC.
To help fight omicron, the CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older be vaccinated, and everyone 18 and older to get a booster shot.
Mask wearing indoors or in areas of high community transmission is also recommended.
Are Your Symptoms Consistent With Allergies
Spring, with its budding trees and warmer weather, means allergy season for many of us. As you see the trees in your area budding, that means the pollen counts will also be increasing.
Key symptoms: Two strong indicators that suggest allergies: if youve had springtime allergies before, and if itch is a prominent component of your symptoms. People with allergies often have itchy eyes, itchy nose, and sneezing, as well as less-specific allergy symptoms such as a runny, congested nose, and a sore throat or cough that is generally due to postnasal drip.
How can I be certain I have allergies? The best way to diagnose allergies is by using skin testing at an allergists office. If you found taking medications such as over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays helpful in prior years, then it would be reassuring that if your symptoms improve with these medications, your symptoms may be due to seasonal allergies. As anyone with allergies can attest, allergies linger for months, so the timeline can often be a clue, too.
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How To Tell If Your Symptoms Are Cold Flu Or Allergies
A runny or stuffy nose can be a symptom of the flu, a cold or allergies, and it can be hard to discern which one you have. So how do you know what’s really going on with your nose?
“More than likely the problem is probably being caused by a virus, especially if there is a defined start date of symptoms, but if your runny nose or congestion is lingering, it could be allergies,” said Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “If your runny nose is accompanied by a fever or body aches, then you might have the flu.”
A big indicator that a person might have the flu is when symptoms such as body aches, fevers, chills, nausea, an upset stomach or night sweats suddenly start occurring, Valdez said. Usually high fever, above 101 degrees, signals that you might have the flu. Also, there is a finite ending to having the flu, and you should be done experiencing symptoms after about one to two weeks.
Valdez emphasized that getting the flu shot is an extremely important step to take to protect yourself from contracting the flu.
“The flu shot is there to protect you. You want to get the flu shot so that you can launch an immune response to the real infection if you are exposed to the flu,” she said. “Also, if you do contract influenza, it will hopefully help you get over the illness quicker.”
Are Your Symptoms Consistent With The Flu
In the US, the flu season is coming to an end, whereas COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. So, flulike symptoms should prompt concern for COVID-19.
Key symptoms:Flu is characterized by fever, chills, muscle aches, and exhaustion. It classically comes on suddenly, as opposed to the more gradual onset of the common cold. More mild symptoms can also occur, similar to the common cold, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and headache. Vomiting and diarrhea are uncommon in adults, but can happen in children.
How can I be certain I have the flu? Flu is diagnosed based on a swab test performed by a healthcare provider. Prescription medications can limit the duration of influenza symptoms, but need to be started promptly. The flu vaccine is also an important part of prevention. The duration of symptoms is approximately one week, with symptom improvement occurring around five days.
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Chills Joint Aches Nasal Congestion And Night Sweats
- Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Reviewed on 8/31/2020
Sometimes, chills, night sweats, and joint aches and pains can accompany upper respiratory conditions including nasal congestion, sinus infection, hay fever, or allergic responses to indoor allergens. It is common for respiratory conditions to cause general symptoms of feeling unwell. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms, seek the advice of your doctor.
While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:
Common Symptoms For These People *:
* Approximation only. Some reports may have incomplete information.
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The Top 8 Symptoms Of Dust Allergies
Do you think that you may be experiencing symptoms of dust allergies?
Or could it be something else?
Unfortunately, some of the signs of a dust allergy, like sneezing, coughing and a runny nose, are similar to sicknesses such as the common cold.
What may seem to be dust allergy symptoms may actually be a cold and vice versus.
But, how do you know for sure?
Dust allergies can range from mild to severe.
In a mild case, you may experience an occasional outbreak of the symptoms below, while in a severe condition you might notice chronic, ongoing problems.
In this article, well share with you eight of the most common signs that are associated with allergies related to dust and dust mites.
Hopefully, this information will clue you in to whats really going on with your health.
Note: If symptoms such as wheezing or nasal congestion are severe, you should call your doctor. If shortness of breath or wheezing quickly gets worse, seek emergency care. The information provided in this article should not substitute for professional care.
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You Have A Viral Or Bacterial Infection
When chills are accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, body aches or fatigue, theyre more likely associated with a systemic infection, such as flu or pneumonia.
Chills boost your bodys core temperature when your immune system attempts to fight off infection, Taroyan explains. Your body temperature increases, even though you might feel cold. If you have a viral infection, you will usually notice other symptoms along with chills, such as sore throat, cough, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Most of the time, it can be self-limiting and will resolve within 2 weeks. Its important to get plenty of rest and increase your fluid intake.
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How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Covid
If you have been exposed to COVID-19, or think you might have been around someone with the disease, then you’ll want to watch out for the previously mentioned symptoms. Generally, COVID-19 symptoms happen between 2 and 14 days after you’ve been around someone with the condition. Some of the symptoms may be obvious, like if you’re coughing, but it can be harder to tell if you have a fever. It’s helpful to have a thermometer on hand if you can afford one to help determine if you have a fever, which is a key difference from allergy symptoms.
Identify When Symptoms Start
So youve decided you probably have seasonal allergies. Great. But also, not great, because while allergies from pollen arent typically serious, they also arent fun.
Some people are like, Oh, its just allergies, but allergies can be debilitating. Quality of life goes down, people miss school and work and theres an economic impact, says Dr. Drew Ayars, an allergist who sees patients at the allergy clinics at UW Medical Center Montlake and UW Medical Center Eastside Specialty Center.
Your first step toward getting relief is figuring out what kind of seasonal allergies you have.
Does your foggy-headed misery set in before the first flowers bloom? Or later in spring when everyone starts mowing their lawns again?
You dont have to be tested to know what youre allergic to. You can correlate symptoms to pollen counts around that time, he explains.
Thats because different types of pollen emerge at different times. In late winter and early spring, the most prevalent pollens are from trees hazelnut, birch, alder, oak, cottonwood, ash and juniper are especially common in the Seattle area, Rampur says. Mid- to late spring is full of grass pollen, and the biggest culprit in late summer to fall is weed pollen.
Once you notice when specifically your allergies flare up, you can put a plan in place for dealing with them .
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is causing my chills?
- How should I treat chills?
- Should I look out for signs of complications?
Chills can cause an uncomfortable sensation of shivering and goosebumps. Theyre often a sign that your body feels too cold or is fighting off an illness. Many people feel chilled when they have a fever. Warming your body with more clothes and heat can ward off cold chills. If a sickness causes chills, see your healthcare provider. Most chills pass within a few hours or days. In the meantime, pile on the blankets and make a cup of tea.
Signs Your Symptoms Aren’t Caused By Allergies
1. Your snot is green. It’s not pretty, and it’s a sign of infection.
2. You have a fever. Hot flashes and chills are symptoms that are never linked to allergies.
3. You feel pain in your cheeks. While allergies can trigger sinus pressure around the eyes and temples, pain that extends through the cheeks and even to the teeth can signal inflammatory build-up that’s common in sinus infections not allergies. And that could require antibiotics to clear up.
4. You have a cough … but that’s not all. “You have to look at the constellation of symptoms because it’s very hard to differentiate between an allergic cough and one caused by post-nasal drip related to a virus,” Dr. Corn explains. So a cough, plus anything else on this list = something more serious than allergies.
5. Congestion + bad breath. Terrible congestion is the hallmark of seasonal allergies, but it can occur for a host of reasons. When paired with smelly breath or a foul taste in the mouth, it’s probably a sign of infection.
If you think you’re sick : See your doctor to rule out an infection that requires antibiotics , strep, and the flu.
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Are Your Symptoms Consistent With The Common Cold
In medicine we often say common things are common, and the common cold remains common even during this pandemic.
Key symptoms:Symptoms of the common cold are usually a runny, congested nose as well as a sore throat, headache, and generally feeling unwell. A mild cough due to postnasal drip and sneezing can occur, but itch would be less likely. More severe symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath, are not classic symptoms of the common cold.
How can I be certain I have a cold? A cold is usually diagnosed simply by assessing symptoms and without testing. Over-the-counter cold medications often can help with symptom control. The common cold will usually resolve within approximately one week of onset of symptoms.
Reaction To Extreme Physical Activity
This response can happen in any type of weather but may be more likely to occur in very cold or very hot temperatures:
- In hot temperatures, heat exhaustion and dehydration may cause this reaction.
- In cold temperatures, hypothermia and dehydration may be the cause.
In both instances, other symptoms you might experience include:
- nausea and vomiting
You can avoid chills from exercise by remaining hydrated and dressing appropriately for your workouts. Consider avoiding exercise during the coldest or hottest times of day and also limiting the duration of time spent in intense activity.
Hydrating and getting your temperature back into a normal range are usually enough to eliminate your symptoms.
In some instances, though, you may require IV fluids to treat the condition.
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