Do You Have A Cold The Flu Or Allergies
The above table details the symptom differences between all three conditions.
The common symptoms of a cold, flu and allergies are a stuffy or a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, a cough, a headache, or even fatigue. Two differing symptoms are a fever or aches/pain, these would not be caused by allergies, but could be due to a cold or the flu. Symptoms of the flu are often more severe than a cold.
While the symptoms are similar, the origin of the conditions are different. A cold and the flu are both caused by different viruses, whereas allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to a trigger. Common inhalant allergy triggers are pollen, dust, mold, pet dander.
See related: Is it a cold? Or is it Allergies?
Managing Tree Pollen Allergies And Reducing Exposure
If you know you are allergic to tree pollen, start taking allergy medication in the weeks leading up to the time your allergies usually start. Getting ahead of your reaction will help you manage your hay fever symptoms.
During the spring, you can also take steps to limit your exposure to pollen. For example:
- Keep your home’s windows closed and use an air filter.
- Limit your time outside and stay away from pets that are frequently outside.
- Shower daily before bed to remove any pollen from your hair and skin.
- Wash your bedding weekly in hot water and dry clothes inside rather than on an outdoor clothesline.
- Check the pollen count. Pollen counts are typically highest in the morning and again at night. Avoid spending long periods of time outdoors when the pollen count is high.
Although there are many over-the-counter allergy medications available, it’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor about your allergy symptoms. They can let you know which treatment will be the most helpful.
Can Allergies Make You Feel Hot
According to Chen and DeBlasio, allergies shouldnt cause a fever low grade or otherwise or make children feel hot. However, running around outside can result in the latter.
Before I realized my son had hay fever, I worried about him feeling warm when his allergies started acting up, says mom of three Jaclyn Santos from Hazlet, New Jersey. Eventually, I realized that the reason his allergies were acting up and the reason he felt hot was because he was running around outside.
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Check If You Have Hay Fever
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of smell
- pain around your temples and forehead
If you have asthma, you might also:
- have a tight feeling in your chest
- be short of breath
- wheeze and cough
Hay fever will last for weeks or months, unlike a cold, which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.
Ones Riskier Than The Other
While people can die from allergies, usually they involve allergies to certain foods , medications , or materials . Allergic rhinitis , while uncomfortable, is not fatal, Dr. Ditto says. But some of the complications of allergies, such as asthma, can be.
According to the CDC, most cases of this new coronavirus are mild, but cases can turn severe, especially if youre elderly or have other health issues like diabetes or heart disease.Other things to note:
- The incubation period of COVID-19 is two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- Experts arent sure exactly how contagious the virus is because theres still much to learn about it. But because its a new virus that people dont have prior exposure to, it has the ability to spread widely.
- Interestingly, the number of people suffering from seasonal allergies also seem to be on the upswing, due, at least in part, say experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology , to climate change.
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Can I Prevent Hay Fever
There is no way to prevent hay fever, but lifestyle changes can help you live with allergies. You can relieve hay fever symptoms by avoiding irritants as much as possible. To reduce symptoms, you should:
- Avoid touching your face and rubbing your eyes or nose.
- Close windows in your home and car during the spring, summer and early fall when pollen counts are higher.
- Enclose pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust mite covers.
- Keep pets off couches and beds, and close doors to bedrooms you dont want them to enter.
- Use filters in your vacuum cleaner and air conditioner to reduce the amount of allergens in the air.
- Wash your hands often, especially after playing with pets.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen when youre outside. Change your clothes as soon as you come indoors.
How Is Allergic Rhinitis Treated
Several allergy medications can improve symptoms and help you live with hay fever. These treatments come in many forms, including liquids, pills, eye drops, nasal sprays and injections. Talk to your provider before taking any medication, especially if youre pregnant or have other health concerns. Your provider may suggest:
Antihistamines: Antihistamine medications are available with a prescription or over the counter. They work by blocking the histamine that your body releases during an allergic response. Antihistamines come as pills, liquids, eye drops, nasal sprays and inhalers. They include:
- Loratadine .
- Fexofenadine .
- Levocetirizine .
Antihistamines can cause drowsiness. Avoid alcohol when taking antihistamines, especially if youre going to drive.
These medications relieve congestion in the nose and sinuses. You can take decongestants by mouth or use a nasal spray. They include:
- Afrin® nasal spray.
- Phenylephrine nasal spray .
Corticosteroid nasal sprays: These sprays and inhalers reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of hay fever. The most common nasal sprays are Flonase®, Nasacort® and Rhinocort®. Side effects include headaches, nasal irritation, nosebleeds and cough.
Your provider might recommend immunotherapy in the form of a pill that you place under your tongue.
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Could It Be A Cold Or Allergies
Like flu and COVID-19, colds are also caused by viruses and can be passed to others.
Symptoms of a cold tend to be mild. You may have a runny nose, cough, congestion, and sore throat. But you wont usually have the aches and fever that are common with COVID-19 and flu. Often, youll feel better in a couple of days.
Theres no cure for the common cold. Typical treatments include rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medicines. Some complementary treatments may help with cold symptoms, too. Taking honey may help with nighttime cough for children over 1 year old. Rinsing your nose and sinuses can help with congestion. You can use a neti pot or other nasal rinsing device. Be sure to only use water thats been properly processed, such as distilled or boiled water, not tap water. Nasal rinses can bring relief for both cold and allergies.
Allergies can cause a runny nose and sneezing. But theyre not contagious. If your eyes, nose, or ears itch, that also could be an allergy.
Exposure to things like dust, pets, and tree or grass pollen can trigger allergies, which are caused by the immune systemThe system that protects your body from invading viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic threats. overreacting.
Allergy symptoms tend to stop when youre no longer exposed to the cause. Unless you have asthma, allergies typically do not cause breathing problems. Allergies can be treated with drugs like antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroids.
Can Allergies Cause A Cough
Allergies can also cause you to cough. They can make the back of your throat tickle and cause sinus drainage that makes you very uncomfortable. These allergy symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe. Patients with asthma may experience wheezing or shortness of breath along with a cough. A cough called by allergies is not contagious but it can certainly be annoying.
Patients with allergies often develop a chronic dry cough that lasts for weeks. You may experience a cough at different times of the year if you have hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis). Hay fever can cause you to sneeze, have itchy skin, watery eyes, and cough. The congestion you experience during seasonal allergies can also cause dark circles under your eyes.
A cough caused by allergies is much different from a cough caused by an infection. Asthma, whether its chronic or triggered by allergens, can also cause a cough.
However, if you experience a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, or other symptoms, its time to see your doctor.
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How Can Allergy Symptoms Be Treated By A Doctor
Allergists, like Dr. Kevin Farnam, MD, are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of allergies and asthma. These specially trained clinicians can treat your stubborn allergy symptoms by first, diagnosing, and then prescribing medications that can help.
Many mild allergy cases can be treated without seeing a doctor. When allergies interfere with your day-to-day activities, you can take back control of your life by seeing an allergist.
An allergist can treat all kinds of allergy problems including:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is a reaction that occurs primarily from environmental allergens
- Anaphylaxis is rare and a potentially fatal allergic reaction caused by triggers such as food, a medication, or an insect sting
- Asthma is an allergy symptom that causes muscle spasms in a persons breathing airway that blocks air to the lungs
- Atopic or contact dermatitis are allergies that cause hives or dermatitis on the skin
Visiting an allergist could include:
- A complete history and physical exam
- Allergy testing to see what is causing your symptoms
- Education to help prevent allergies by avoiding them
- Medication to treat symptoms
- Allergy shots to alleviate symptoms
You should see an allergist if your allergies are causing chronic sinus infections, difficulty breathing, or the discomfort of sneezing, wheezing, or other symptoms that disrupt your life.
Fever As A Secondary Symptom Of Allergy
When you have a fever along with your allergies it is the sign that something else is going on. The allergic reaction may have produced sinusitis. This is an infection of the sinus cavities and can happen when untreated allergies cause inflammation that prevents the sinuses from draining properly.
The fever you experience isnt because of the allergic reaction. It is because the allergic reaction has resulted in an infection. You may be able to clear the infection with antibiotics, but if the allergies arent treated the infection can return and bring a fever with it.
If your allergies cause inflammation that results in fluid in the ear, you can get an ear infection. In this instance, the fever is a result of the infection of the ear. Its not the allergic reaction that caused the fever its the infection that was caused by the allergic reaction.
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What Are Colds And Allergies
They have different causes. You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. There are hundreds of different types that can get you sick.
Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system, the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. It’s this response that brings on the classic symptoms like a cough or stuffed up nose.
The viruses that cause colds are contagious. You can pick them up when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs, or shakes hands with you. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.
It’s a different story with allergies. They’re caused by an overactive immune system. For some reason, your body mistakes harmless things, such as dust or pollen, for germs and mounts an attack on them.
When that happens, your body releases chemicals such as histamine, just as it does when fighting a cold. This can cause a swelling in the passageways of your nose, and you’ll start sneezing and coughing.
What Is Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to tiny particles in the air called allergens. When you breathe in allergens through your nose or mouth, your body reacts by releasing a natural chemical called histamine. Several indoor and outdoor allergens cause hay fever. Common causes include dust mites, mold, pet dander and pollen from trees and plants.
Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing, nasal congestion and irritation of the nose, throat, mouth and eyes. Allergic rhinitis is not the same as infectious rhinitis, otherwise known as the common cold. Hay fever is not contagious.
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What Is A Skin Prick Test
This common test is painless and accurate, though it may be a little uncomfortable. Your provider places a small sample of different allergens on your skin and scratches or pricks the skin with a needle. Scratching the skin allows the allergen to get under the surface.
If youre allergic to the allergen, the area will become red, itchy and irritated in 15 to 30 minutes. You may develop raised, hive-like welts called wheals that show an allergic reaction. A skin prick test is a safe, effective way to determine which allergens are causing your symptoms.
Can Allergies Raise Your Temperature And Cause Fever
People rarely experience a fever as a result of allergies. However, depending on the allergen and the symptoms you develop when your immune system reacts, you can develop a fever. Fever is usually caused by infection therefore, fever as a symptom is rare without an infection.
Fever is seen in people with nasal congestion due to an allergen. The congestion traps microorganisms like bacteria in your nose, predisposing you to sinusitis. Sinus inflammation is referred to as sinusitis and is associated with fever. Therefore, such fever can last for a few days and requires antimicrobial treatment. In such a case, treating sinusitis will help relieve you from the fever, as is seen with other infections that cause fever. People whose allergy does not cause nasal congestion rarely experience fever as a symptom of an allergic reaction.
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Symptoms Of Nasal Allergies
- Clear nasal discharge with sneezing, sniffing, and itching of nose
- Eye allergies also can occur
- Ear and sinus congestion or fullness can occur
- Throat can also feel scratchy or have a tickly feeling at times
- Itchy ear canals, itchy skin or hoarse voice sometimes also occur
- Symptoms happen during pollen season
- Same symptoms during the same month of the last year
- Past diagnosis by a doctor is helpful
- No fever
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Tree Pollen Allergies
Trees often release pollen before other plants do. If you experience allergy symptoms early in the spring, you might have a tree pollen allergy. The symptoms of tree pollen allergies include:
- Sneezing runny or stuffy nose
- Red, watery, and puffy eyes
- Itchy nose, ears, eyes, and mouth
To get a definitive diagnosis of tree pollen allergies, youll need to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis through allergy testing.
Potential tests that doctors can use to determine your allergies include:
- Skin prick test: For this test, ahealthcare provider places a small amount of tree pollen on your skin, then pricks or scratches the skin through the pollen. If redness, itching, or swelling develops at the site within 20 minutes, youre likely allergic to tree pollen. The severity of your reaction indicates the severity of your allergy.
- Specific IgE blood test, Radioallergosorbetnt or ImmunoCap:For this test, you’ll need to give a blood sample. In the lab, a small amount of tree pollen is added to your blood, then a lab technician measures the number of allergy antibodies your blood produces to fight the allergen.
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Do Allergies Cause A Fever
Seasonal allergies should not cause a fever, as a high temperature often signals your body is fighting a bacterial or viral infection, says Jessica Hui, M.D., allergy and immunology physician at National Jewish Health in Denver. Many of us have heard someone sneeze and then say, Its just my allergies when theyre actually sick with the common cold.
Symptoms of the common cold, flu, or COVID-19 are often confused with seasonal allergies, as theres a lot of overlap with symptoms. But if there is an associated feverwhen your temperature hits 100.4 degrees or moreits important to think beyond allergies, because it may be an illness that is contagious and warrants a sick day, explains Dr. Hui.
How Is Hay Fever Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will examine you, ask about your symptoms and evaluate you for other conditions, such as a cold or asthma. To measure your antibodies to specific allergens, your provider may take a blood sample and send it to a lab for testing. This blood test is called an immunoglobulin E test. It can detect all types of allergies, including food allergies.
Your provider may recommend a skin prick test to determine what allergens are causing your symptoms.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Hay Fever
Although hay fever doesnt cause any serious health problems, you should see your provider to rule out other conditions, such as asthma. Seek care if hay fever symptoms are getting in the way of your daily life or making it hard for you to sleep. Your provider can help you identify the allergens that are causing a reaction and recommend treatments to help you feel better.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hay fever symptoms can affect your quality of life and keep you from doing the activities you love, but effective treatments are available. Millions of adults and children manage hay fever with medications and lifestyle changes. Talk to your provider about steps you can take to relieve symptoms, breathe easier and feel better.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2020.
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- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . Rhinitis Overview. Accessed 9/1/2021.
- InformedHealth.org . Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care 2006-. Hay fever: Allergen-specific immunotherapy in the treatment of allergies. Accessed 9/1/2021.
- Wheatley LM, Togias A. Allergic Rhinitis. N Engl J Med. 2015 Jan 29 372:456-463. Accessed 9/1/2021.