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Is it Allergies or the Flu?

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Seasonal Allergies vs. the Seasonal Flu

As winter approaches, your chances of getting the sniffles hit an all-time high for the year. But if you start to notice symptoms, you may find yourself wondering if you’re actually sick or just suffering from seasonal allergies. If you’re sick, you’ll need to stay home until you’re feeling better (especially this year). If it’s only allergies, you’ll be able to take an over-the-counter medication to help with your symptoms and carry on. To help know what to do, we’re here to help you tell the difference.

The Seasonal Flu

The flu is a contagious respiratory infection caused by the seasonal influenza virus. While dealing with the flu can be a mild experience for most, for others, it can cause hospitalization and can even be life-threatening. So to help protect the most vulnerable members of our community, it’s important to play it safe when you start to feel under the weather.

Signs and Symptoms

While symptoms and their severity may vary from person to person, signs of the seasonal influenza virus may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea in children

A good way to tell if you’re sick is to check your temperature. If you’re at 100.4°F or above, you have a fever. This is a measurable indicator that something out of the ordinary is going on in your body. To learn more about what to do if you have the flu, take a look at St. Luke’s Flu Survival Guide.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pressure in the chest
  • Persistent dizziness or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe body aches
  • Severe weakness
  • Fever or cough that improves then returns

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies happen when your immune system is triggered by a substance that is either on or around you. This is your body trying to protect itself from an otherwise harmless substance called an allergen. This immune response is called an allergic reaction.

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the most common signs and symptoms that point to the presence of environmental allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Hives
  • Trouble breathing
  • Itchy eyes

Some common environmental allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Smoke

If your symptoms continue to worsen and get in the way of everyday activities, it’s recommended that you talk with your primary care provider to discuss your options for managing your symptoms.

Compassionate Health Care in Duluth

If you’re still not sure if you have the flu or allergies, you can always talk to your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, establish care at St. Luke’s. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable medical staff provides high-quality care to people throughout the region. To establish care with a St. Luke’s primary care provider, call 218.249.4000 or find a clinic near you.

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