Allergies vs. the Flu – Everything You Need to Know

You could be feeling lousy. Maybe you have sniffles, sore throat, and you are sneezing. Is it an allergy or flu? It is not easy to differentiate between an allergy and flu because they possess numerous similar and uncomfortable symptoms. Knowing the differences is vital in choosing the most appropriate treatment. Having the right diagnosis saves you from the risk of getting inappropriate medication, which is ineffective and may exacerbate your symptoms.

Both allergies and flu affect respiratory organs making breathing difficult. Each of these conditions have significant symptoms that make them distinct.



Viruses are the causative agents for flu. When individuals have the flu, they present with severe symptoms like sore throat, cough, chest congestion, stuffy and runny nose. Flu is also associated with high fever that may last for about three to four days together with pains, general aches, fatigue, and headaches.


On the other hand, viruses do not cause allergies, but rather an allergy is caused by an immune system reaction to a foreign antigen that is harmful to the body. These allergens include pet dander, pollen, and particular foods.

1. Food Allergy.

Characteristics of food allergy include fatigue, nausea, hives, and swelling. It can take you a while before realizing that you have specific food allergies. Hence, the need to seek a physician’s guidance if you experience persistent reactions after particular meals.

2. Seasonal Allergy.

Symptoms of hay fever resemble those of flu. The symptoms include swollen eyes, congestion, and runny nose. Through the use of OTC medications, it is possible to manage the symptoms while at home. However, it is advisable to seek for doctor’s assistance if the symptoms worsen.

4. Skin Allergies.

Skin allergies appear as rashes or tingling sensation on the throat or mouth. Contact dermatitis is an example. It results from an allergen coming into contact with your skin. Other symptoms include hives, burning sensation, itching, swollen eyes, sore throat, eczema, and rashes.

Causes of Allergies.

Allergies may have genetic relation where parents may pass it to the offspring. However, you need to know that it is the general susceptibility with a genetic link and that particular allergies are not necessarily inherited.

Other allergens include latex, resin, weed, grass, molds, insect stings, and certain drugs. Allergy symptoms may last longer, about six weeks, especially in summer or spring seasons, when there is too much pollen in the atmosphere.

Allergy Medication.

ENT doctors mostly prescribe antihistamines for the management of allergies. The severity of the symptoms influences ENT doctor recommendations. The medications include leukotriene modifiers, nasal decongestants, and loratadine.

Other patients prefer immunotherapy that involves the sensitization of the immune system. Your ENT doctor will likely recommend emergency epinephrine for severe allergic symptoms.

If left un-managed, allergies may lead to severe asthma, ear and sinus infections. For severe, recurrent, or newer symptoms, immediately seek assistance from your ENT doctor.


Flu symptoms, on the other hand, rarely last more than two weeks. With flu, you will probably recover on your own without any medication. However, if the symptoms persist for more than ten days. If the OTC drugs are ineffective, consult your physician as soon as possible. Flu may lead to sepsis, pneumonia, ear infections, and sinusitis. Hydration and rest are vital in managing flu. Typical flu symptoms are:

1. Fever.

Flu raises body temperature from 100 Fahrenheit to 104 Fahrenheit. Children will most likely present with higher fever as compared to adults. Some of the signs that accompany elevated temperatures are sweat, chills, and feeling cold despite high body temperatures. The fevers do not last more than a week.

2. Headache.

Severe headache is among the first symptoms of flu. Sound and light sensitivity may accompany severe headaches.

3. Dry Cough, Fatigue, and Muscle aches.

Dry continuous cough is a characteristic of flu. The cough may exacerbate to be very painful and so uncomfortable. Fatigue is, however, a non-specific flu symptom as it may be a symptom of several other conditions. Muscle aches caused by flu occur on the legs, arms, back, and neck.

Influenza virus leads to numerous illnesses annually. It can attack anyone irrespective of your age group or immune system status. So even people with a stable immune system can spread and contract the disease. Sometimes, the influenza flu is deadly, more so to patients over the age of 65 years.

Unlike allergies, one can be vaccinated against viruses that cause the flu. The best way to prevent you from contracting and spreading flu is through vaccination. The vaccine is in the form of nasal sprays, intra-dermal shots, and injectable shots. Getting most people vaccinated against flu helps in reducing its spread and boosting immunity. Besides, vaccinated individuals report less severity of flu symptoms if they contract it.

Flu Shot.

After your vaccination, the body begins to produce antibodies against influenza virus strains. These antibodies protect your immune system against the influenza virus. However, it is essential to note that another type of influenza can lead to flu, but it will be mild because of the previous vaccination.

Physicians recommend that anybody above six months of age should get the flu vaccine. Much interest is on the high-risk group, including:

  • Adults over 65 years of age.
  • People over the age of 18 years of age and receiving Aspirin medication.
  • Children below the age of five years.
  • Pregnant women.

Flu Treatment.

In most cases, the symptoms are mild and require no medication. ENT doctor will advise you to remain at home, avoid socializing with people within that short period to curb its spread. For the supportive management, remember to:

  • Sneeze and cough into disposable tissues.
  • Regularly wash your hands to curb the virus spread.
  • Take a lot of fluids.

For pharmacological management, an ENT doctor may prescribe;

1. Cough Suppressants.

These will assist in relieving the dry cough, which is a symptom of flu. Some contain lemon and honey for the management of sore throat.

2. Expectorant.

It works against the thick secretions at the sinus responsible for cough and a clogged nose. ENT doctor may prescribe nasal decongestants to assist in relieving pressure in the ears and sinuses.

3. Painkillers.

The ENT doctor may prescribe pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the management of fevers, headaches, and muscle aches. If you have sinus issues, contact allergist Ft. Lauderdale experts at Broward Sinus.