How to Tell if You have Seasonal Allergies, a Cold, or Flu

Spring is a great time to be outdoors and enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers and plant life. But it also ushers in the allergy season which causes many people’s noses to become stuffy, runny, and even itchy! Before you take any over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms, read on to understand the different symptoms, what they mean, and get an idea if you may be suffering from seasonal allergies or an entirely different illness like colds or flu.

What is the difference between seasonal allergies and flu or colds?
An allergy is your body’s immune response to a foreign substance called allergens that are seen as harmful even if it isn’t. In the case of seasonal allergies, the usual allergens are different types of pollens brought by the changing seasons such as tree, flower, or grass pollens. Flu or colds, on the other hand, is caused by different viruses and can last up to 2 weeks even without taking any medications.

How to differentiate seasonal allergies against colds or flu?
One tell-tale sign that you have seasonal allergies is when you experience these symptoms at the same time every year and may last for about six weeks. Check the table below to guide you on what illness you are probably experiencing:

What to do if you have seasonal allergies?
There is no cure for allergies, just methods and medications to control and relieve the symptoms. Here are some ways you can do to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms:

  • Try to avoid allergens. It’s hard not to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors. If you plan a day outdoors, wear a mask when going to highly pollinated areas. It is also good to shower and change clothes when you get home. At home, keep your windows closed to prevent allergens from being blown in by the wind. On an extremely windy day, plan indoor activities instead.
  • Take over-the-counter allergy medications. If you cannot tolerate the symptoms and it prevents you from functioning, you can try taking medications such as antihistamines, steroid sprays, or decongestants. If you are not sure what to get, get medical advice by calling 973-412-3500 or book immediate care at MetroDoc Urgent Care of Perth Amboy.
  • Try saline nasal irrigation. This can relieve a stuffy nose by flushing away allergens that found their way into your nasal passages. Here are the steps to perform nasal irrigation:
    • Hold your head over the sink or do it in the shower.
    • Tilt your head to the right.
    • Pour or squeeze the saline solution into the left nostril. The saline solution should flow out of your right nostril. Adjust your head if the solution is going to the back of your throat.
    • Repeat on the other side.

When to see a doctor?
If symptoms are preventing you from performing your daily tasks, if you are experiencing symptoms not listed above, or if the allergy medications are not providing enough relief, let our medical specialists care for you. Call us at 973-412-3500 or walk in at MetroDoc Urgent Perth Amboy.