Colds and flu

05 January 2020

Health tip – cold, flu or allergy?

You feel your nose is irritated and your throat becomes sensitive, but what exactly are you in for – a cold, the flu or an allergy?

Determining if you have a cold, the flu or an allergy can be difficult when you're having common symptoms, such as sneezing or a sore throat.

The common symptoms reflect that each condition affects your respiratory system, says the National Institutes of Health.

While both colds and flus can cause congestion, cough and sore throat, the flu has unique symptoms. The flu can cause high fever, headache, fatigue, and aches. These symptoms are less common in people with a cold.

Allergies can cause itchy, watery eyes, which aren't typical symptoms of a cold or flu. Usually, allergy symptoms last as long as you're exposed to the trigger. A cold or the flu rarely lasts more than two weeks.

Image credit: iStock


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Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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