Is it flu, allergies or cold? You’re fine one minute and the next you’re tired, achy and feeling like you just want to curl up and sleep off whatever is affecting your body.

Are you fighting an oncoming cold? Allergies? Or could it be the flu? Use our symptom guide developed by federal health experts to start you on your way to a healthy rest and recovery.

Symptoms Airborne Allergies Colds Flu
Fever Never Not typical; if so, lower than 100°F Yes, higher (100°F+), especially in young children; up to 3-4 days
Headache No No Yes
Aches, pains Never Slight Yes; often severe
Fatigue, weakness Sometimes Sometimes Yes, up to 3 weeks
Extreme exhaustion Never Never Yes, especially at onset
Stuffy, runny nose Yes Yes Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Sometimes Yes Sometimes
Cough Sometimes Yes Yes, can become severe
Chest discomfort No, unless you have allergic asthma Sometimes Yes
Treatment Avoid things you’re allergic to; use antihistamines, nasal steroids, decongestants Lots of rest and fluids for hydration, use decongestants and pain relievers for aches; aspirin in people ages 18+ only Lots of rest and fluids for hydration, use decongestants and pain relievers for fever and aches; aspirin in people ages 18+ only; ask about antiviral medicines at onset
Prevention Avoid allergens: pollen, dust, mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches Wash your hands often and avoid close contact with other people Get the flu vaccine each year; wash your hands often, and avoid anyone who has the flu
Potential complications   Sinus infection, middle ear infection, asthma Sinus infection middle ear infection, asthma Bronchitis or pneumonia, which can be life-threatening

Source: National Institute of Health

Further reading: How to Gain a Breast Pump & Supplies Under the ACA
Ask a Pharmacist: Managing Medications
Discussing Health and Parenting: Girlfriend’s Guide


The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) promotes the health of women and newborns.

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