Distinguishing Between Allergies, A Cold, And The Flu

If you are trying to determine if you are suffering from allergies, a cold, or the flu, then you have come to the right place. By understanding the source of your illness, you can successfully treat your symptoms in the comfort of your own home while you wait for your doctor's appointment.

Allergy Types

There are a wide variety of different types of allergies.

The most common allergies are:

  • food allergies (milk, egg, wheat, nuts, fish)
  • animal allergies (pet dog, pet cat)
  • seasonal allergies (spring, summer, fall)

Each different type of allergy typically has its own set of symptoms. 

Food Allergy Symptoms

If you suffer from food allergies, then you will have the following symptoms:

  • swelling of lips and tongue
  • itchy eyes
  • hives
  • intestinal issues
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing

Some food allergies, such as an allergy to nuts, can cause someone to stop breathing. This situation is always a dire emergency.

Animal Allergies and Seasonal Allergies

If you suffer from allergies to your pets or seasonal irritants, then you will have the following symptoms:

  • itchy eyes
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • wheezing

The major difference between seasonal allergies versus pet allergies is that the pet allergy will improve as soon as you leave your home. However, if you have a seasonal allergy, then your health will decrease as you spend more time outdoors.

Cold Symptoms

The common cold has similar symptoms to the flu and allergies. However, there are some slight differences.

The symptoms of a cold are:

  • low fever
  • mild body aches
  • mild headache
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • itchy eyes
  • cough
  • sore throat

The major difference between allergies and other illness is that allergies do not include a fever. If you have a cold, then you will have a fever under 100 degrees. If you have the flu, then you will have a fever that is higher than 100 degrees.

Flu Symptoms

The symptoms of the flu are:

  • high fever
  • chills
  • body aches
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

If you have vomiting or diarrhea, then you likely do have the flu. If not, then you likely have a cold or allergies.


By understanding your symptoms, you can better treat your illness until you can seek medical attention. If you are suffering from allergies of any type, then you should make an appointment with an allergy clinic. If you are suffering from a cold or the flu, then you should make an appointment with your internal medicine doctor.