Cold, Flu, or Allergy?

You’re feeling pretty lousy. You’ve got sniffles, sneezing, and a sore throat. Is it a cold, flu, or allergies? It can be hard to tell them apart because they share so many symptoms. But understanding the differences will help you choose the best treatment.

“If you know what you have, you won’t take medications that you don’t need, that aren’t effective, or that might even make your symptoms worse,” says NIH’s Dr. Teresa Hauguel, an expert on infectious diseases that affect breathing.

Cold, flu, and allergy all affect your respiratory system, which can make it hard to breathe. Each condition has key symptoms that set them apart.

Colds and flu are caused by different viruses. “As a rule of thumb, the symptoms associated with the flu are more severe,” says Hauguel. Both illnesses can lead to a runny, stuffy nose; congestion; cough; and sore throat. But the flu can also cause high fever that lasts for 3-4 days, along with a headache, fatigue, and general aches and pain. These symptoms are less common when you have a cold.

“Allergies are a little different, because they aren’t caused by a virus,” Hauguel explains. “Instead, it’s your body’s immune system reacting to a trigger, or allergen, which is something you’re allergic to.” If you have allergies and breathe in things like pollen or pet dander, the immune cells in your nose and airways may overreact to these harmless substances. Your delicate respiratory tissues may then swell, and your nose may become stuffed up or runny.

“Allergies can also cause itchy, watery eyes, which you don’t normally have with a cold or flu,” Hauguel adds.

Allergy symptoms usually last as long as you’re exposed to the allergen, which may be about 6 weeks during pollen seasons in the spring, summer, or fall. Colds and flu rarely last beyond 2 weeks.

Most people with a cold or flu recover on their own without medical care. But check with a health care provider if symptoms last beyond 10 days or if symptoms aren’t relieved by over-the-counter medicines.

To treat colds or flu, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. If you have the flu, pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can reduce fever or aches. Allergies can be treated with antihistamines or decongestants. See the “Wise Choices” box for more details.

Be careful to avoid “drug overlap” when taking medicines that list 2 or more active ingredients on the label. For example, if you take 2 different drugs that contain acetaminophen—one for a stuffy nose and the other for headache—you may be getting too much acetaminophen.

“Read medicine labels carefully—the warnings, side effects, dosages. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you have children who are sick,” Hauguel says. “You don’t want to overmedicate, and you don’t want to risk taking a medication that may interact with another.”

 

Symptoms Cold Flu Airborne Allergy
Fever Rare Usual, high (100-102 °F), sometimes higher, especially in young children); lasts 3-4 days Never
Headache Uncommon Common Uncommon
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual; often severe Never
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual, can last up to 3 weeks Sometimes
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual, at the beginning of the illness Never
Stuffy, Runny Nose Common Sometimes Common
Sneezing Usual Sometimes Usual
Sore Throat Common Sometimes Sometimes
Cough Common Common, can become severe Sometimes
Chest Discomfort Mild to moderate Common Rare, except for those with allergic asthma
Treatment Get plenty of rest.
Stay hydrated. (Drink plenty of fluids.)
Decongestants.
Aspirin (ages 18 and up), acetaminophen, or ibuprofen for aches and pains
Get plenty of rest.
Stay hydrated.
Aspirin (ages 18 and up), acetaminophen, or ibuprofen for aches, pains, and fever
Antiviral medicines (see your doctor)
Avoid allergens (things that you’re allergic to)
Antihistamines
Nasal steroids
Decongestants
Prevention Wash your hands often.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.
Get the flu vaccine each year.
Wash your hands often.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has the flu.
Avoid allergens, such as pollen, house dust mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches.
Complications Sinus infection middle ear infection, asthma Bronchitis, pneumonia; can be life-threatening Sinus infection, middle ear infection, asthma

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Who should be part of your health care team?

 

Most people with diabetes get health care from a primary care professional. Primary care professionals include internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Sometimes physician assistants and nurses with extra training, called nurse practitioners, provide primary care. You also will need to see other care professionals from time to time. A team of health care professionals can help you improve your diabetes self-care. Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team.

Besides a primary care professional, your health care team may include

  • an endocrinologist for more specialized diabetes care
  • a registered dietitian, also called a nutritionist
  • a nurse
  • a certified diabetes educator
  • a pharmacist
  • a dentist
  • an eye doctor
  • a podiatrist, or foot doctor, for foot care
  • a social worker, who can help you find financial aid for treatment and community resources
  • a counselor or other mental health care professional

When you see members of your health care team, ask questions. Write a list of questions you have before your visit so you don’t forget what you want to ask. Watch a video to help you get ready for your diabetes care visit.

You should see your health care team at least twice a year, and more often if you are having problems or are having trouble reaching your blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol goals. At each visit, be sure you have a blood pressure check, foot check, and weight check; and review your self-care plan. Talk with your health care team about your medicines and whether you need to adjust them. Routine health care will help you find and treat any health problems early, or may be able to help prevent them.

Talk with your doctor about what vaccines you should get to keep from getting sick, such as a flu shot and pneumonia shot. Preventing illness is an important part of taking care of your diabetes. Your blood glucose levels are more likely to go up when you’re sick or have an infection. Learn more about taking care of your diabetes when you’re sick and during other special times, such as when you’re traveling.

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How to help a loved one cope with diabetes

 

When people have the support of their family and friends, they are able to better manage their diabetes. It is a hard disease to handle alone. You can help your loved one cope with diabetes by showing your support.

Learn about diabetes.

There is a lot to learn about how people can live well with diabetes. Use what you learn to help your loved one manage his or her diabetes.

  • Helping a loved one cope with diabetes begins with talking.
  • Ask your loved one to teach you about how he or she is managing diabetes.
  • Join a support group – in person or online – about living with diabetes. Check with your hospital or area health clinic to find one.
  • Read about diabetes online.
  • Ask your loved one’s health care team how you can learn more about managing diabetes.
  • Ask your loved one about coping with diabetes and how you can help.

Here are sample questions:

  • Do you ever feel down or overwhelmed about all you have to do to manage your diabetes?
  • Have you set goals to manage your diabetes?
  • What things seem to get in the way of reaching your goals?
  • What can I do to help? (Example: Are there things I can do to make it easier for you to live with diabetes? If you want to be more active, will it help if we take walks together?)
  • Have you talked to your health care team about your diabetes care and how you want to reach your goals?

How you can help.

Try some of these tips to help your loved one.

  • Find ways to help your loved one manage the stress of living with diabetes. Being a good listener is often the most important thing you can do to help.
  • Ask your loved one if he or she would like reminders about doctor visits, when to check blood sugar, and when to take medicine.
  • Help your loved one write a list of questions for the health care team.
  • Eat well. Help your loved one make meals that include foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Find things you can do together such as walking, dancing, or gardening. Being active is a great way to handle stress.
  • Walking together daily gives you time to talk and stay active.
  • Cut back on sweets by serving fresh fruit for dessert.
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-communication-programs/ndep/ndep-health-topics/help-cope-diabetes/Pages/publicationdetail.aspx

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Episode 27: Relationships with diabetes

Relationships with diabetes? Or diabetes in relationships? Which is it?

In this episode Corinna and Scott talk about diabetes’ effect on their personal relationships. And we play highlights from a recent interview with Daniele Hargenrader, a.k.a. The Diabetes Dominator, on this topic.

Every personal relationship can feel the effect of diabetes, not just romantic relationships. But also family relationships, work relationships, and social relationships. What are the keys to keeping these relationships healthy and helpful? Listen as we share some ideas.

You can hear the complete interview with Daniele Hargenrader here: http://www.tudiabetes.org/video/diabetes-in-relationships-with-daniele-hargenrader/.

Everybody Talks Diabetes Podcast Corinna Cornejo

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Episode 25: Spare a Rose, Save a Child

In this special episode Corinna Cornejo speaks with Scott Johnson about the genesis of Spare a Rose, Save a Child.

You may know Scott as the US Communications Lead for MySugr or from his Scott’s Diabetes blog. He’s also a founding member of Partnering for Diabetes Change (also known as P4DC), the organization behind this annual fundraising campaign that supports the International Diabetes Federation‘s Life of a Child program.

In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day Spare A Rose, Save A Child asks you to consider giving your sweetheart one less rose and donating the cost of that bloom to the Spare A Rose, Save A Child campaign. By donating US$5 you will keep a child with diabetes in the developing world alive by supporting the International Diabetes Federation’s Life of a Child program. Commit to a recurring monthly donation of US$5 and you will keep a child alive for the whole year.

Go to www.SpareARose.org/give to donate via PayPal.


Everybody Talks Diabetes Podcast Corinna Cornejo

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Episode 21: #dPodcastWeek

In this episode Corinna Cornejo speaks with Mike Hoskins about the upcoming #dPodcastWeek. Mike is the associate editor of Diabetes Mine and lives with Type 1. He’s written about the resurgence of podcasting in the DOC

Conceived by Stacey Simms, #dPodcastWeek will take place during the week of February 1, 2016. Diabetes podcasters will team up and spread the word about the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign. Spare a Rose asks people to buy one less rose for Valentine’s Day and make a donation to the International Diabetes Federation’s Life for a Child program which provides insulin and supplies to children living with diabetes in the developing world.

If you are a diabetes podcaster who would like to participate in #dPodcastWeek send a message to DPodcastWeek@gmail.com. The deadline is Tuesday, January 12, 2016.

If you are a listener wanting to find out which diabetes podcasts are participating, keep an eye on #DPodcastWeek and look for announcements at Stacey Simms’ blog.

Everybody Talks Diabetes Podcast Corinna Cornejo

 

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Holiday chat series: Hanukkah!!

3:30pm PT, 6:30pm ET, 10:30pm GMT

What time is this where you are?

This event will occur in our main chat room on the TuDiabetes home page.  It is NOT a live-streamed event.

December is a month of many holidays!  On TuDiabetes we’d like to set aside some time to meet up in our chat room to wish each other well on the various holidays we celebrate and discuss how we celebrate, what we eat, what the holiday means to us, and more!

On Tuesday, December 8 those who are interested are invited to meet up in the chat room on our home page to wish one another happy Hanukkah!  You don’t need to be Jewish to join.  Everyone is welcome!

This chat will be hosted by Diabetes Hands Foundation’s Emily Coles, and TuDiabetes member Thas.


Episode 18: Re-branding Diabetes

In this episode Corinna Cornejo and guest co-host Heather Gabel discuss the second in a series of LIVE Interviews with Dr. Susan Guzman, PhD.

In her last interview on TuDiabetes Susan discussed the shame and blame that people with type 2 diabetes often face, as a result of widespread misunderstanding about what causes this condition, and what it really is.  This week’s discussion will continue that conversation, but move into ideas about how to change the general public concept of type 2 diabetes from one molded by misunderstanding, misinformation and stereotyping into one of compassion, understanding and admiration for the millions of people working hard to thrive with type 2 diabetes.

Susan Guzman, PhD is a clinical psychologist specializing in diabetes. Her clinical and research focus areas include overcoming emotional challenges that interfere with management, family issues, and promoting attitudes that support living well with diabetes, from diagnosis throughout life. Dr. Guzman integrates empathy, acceptance and practical guidance to help people better utilize their strengths in living life with diabetes.

In 2003, Dr. Guzman co-founded the Behavioral Diabetes Institute (BDI), the first non-profit organization devoted to the emotional and behavioral aspects of living with diabetes. At BDI, she has served as the Director of Clinical/Educational Services developing and leading programs for people with diabetes and their families. She developed and led many of BDI’s clinical programs, including “Defeating the Depression/Diabetes Connection” (an intensive, multi-week series), the “Just for Parent’s Program” and “Living Well with Complications” workshop. She also held programs for women with type 1 diabetes, spouses/partners, men with diabetes, and other specialized psycho-educational programs for those with diabetes.

Dr. Guzman received her PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in health psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego in 1998. She specialized in diabetes following the completion of her post-doctoral fellowship at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego where she served as the psychological liaison to Scripps Health’s Diabetes Advisory Committee.

Everybody Talks Diabetes Podcast Corinna Cornejo

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Episode 15: The Who, Why, and How of Diabetes Hands Foundation

The staff of Diabetes Hands Foundation describe how they each came to call the non-profit their home, why they love the programs the organization runs, and how your support makes it all possible.

Featuring Corinna Cornejo, Emily Coles, Sarah Edwards, and Melissa Lee

http://diabeteshandsfoundation.org/donate/


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Episode 1: Advocacy

This is the first episode of Everybody Talks: A Diabetes Hands Foundation Podcast. Each week we publish a conversation between Mike Lawson who lives with type 1 diabetes and Corinna Cornejo who lives with type 2 diabetes. The topics revolve around things that are important to people touched by diabetes and include interviews from our archive from experts in these fields.

Subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher Smart Radio, or come back to this page to find new episodes.

Everybody Talks Diabetes Podcast Mike Lawson Corinna Cornejo

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