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Q: How can I tell a cold, flu and allergies apart?

Posted April 03, 2013 in Advice Column, Perry

A: It’s very common for people feeling sick to question whether their symptoms are related to a cold, the flu or allergies. While only a health care provider can give you a diagnosis, there are some differences which may help you describe your condition at your doctor’s visit.

Running a fever is rare with a cold, usually 100° – 102° or higher for several days with the flu and never exists with allergies.

Coughing, with mucus, is typical for a cold, while a dry cough is more consistent with the flu, and in some cases, coughing may be present with allergies.

Body aches can exist slightly with a cold, severely with the flu and never with allergies.

You will experience chills rarely with a cold, usually with the flu and never with allergies.

You may feel a little tired with a cold and/or allergies and moderately to severely tired with the flu.

A headache is uncommon with a cold and/or allergies but is very common with the flu.

With a cold, symptoms can develop over the course of a few days. It may take one to four days after exposure to the flu before symptoms are present, but when symptoms of flu and/or allergies do hit, they can become increasingly worse in just three to six hours. Changes in symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, appetite or body aches change, are a clear signal to visit a health care provider.

Information provided by Mercy Family Care – Perry, 616 10th St, 465-2575.

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