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Each year, millions of school and work days are missed because of colds and flu, and we’re heading into their prime season now. How you can best treat your condition depends on whether it’s a cold or flu that’s ailing you. Since these diseases share many of the same symptoms, they’re sometimes hard to tell apart.

Complicating the problem, many people get bad allergies in the fall, when ragweed pollen is at its peak in many areas, and winter can bring its own allergies as people spend more time indoors around pet dander and house dust mites. When the sniffles, stuffy nose and coughing begin, this chart can help you decide how to handle your symptoms

Symptoms Airborne Allergy Cold Flu
Fever Never Rare Usual, high (100-102°F), sometimes higher-especially in young children); lasts 3-4 days
Headache Rare Rare Common
General Aches, Pains Never Slight Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Sometimes Usual, can last up to 3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Never Usual, at the beginning of the illness
Stuffy, Runny Nose Common Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Sometimes Common Sometimes
Cough Sometimes Common, hacking Common, can become severe
Chest Discomfort Rare Mild to moderate Common
Treatment -Antihistamines

-Nasal steroids (prescription only)

-Decongestants

-Antihistamines

-Decongestants

-Aspirin, acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen for aches and pains

-Aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches, pains and fever

-Antiviral medicines (see your doctor)

Prevention Avoid those things that you are allergic to, such as pollen, house dust mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches -Wash your hands often

-Avoid close contact with anyone with a cold

-Wash your hands often

-Avoid close contact with anyone with the flu

-Annual vaccination

-Antiviral medicines (see your doctor)

Complications Sinus infection, asthma Sinus congestion, middle ear infection, asthma Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening

article courtesy of NewsInHealth.gov

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