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How to Tell the Difference Between the Common Cold, Allergies, and the Flu

Seasonal illnesses run rampant in the fall, and it's likely you'll encounter some form of allergies, cold, or the flu during the colder months. But all of these look similar at their onset. What does that cough mean? Read on to find out!


Fall flu

The Flu

Influenza distinguishes itself not just with respiratory symptoms, but often with pain and discomfort that spreads through your whole body. Watch for some of these distinct signs:

  • Body aches.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Nausea.
  • Nighttime sweating.

When you become infected with the flu virus, you usually develop a high fever, above 101 degrees. There is a finite start and ending to having the flu, doctors say. The symptoms come on quickly, and end about one to two weeks after you become infected. 


A major way to combat your chances of getting the flu, or having milder symptoms is to get the annual flu shot. Make sure you're getting yours every year!


Fall Common Cold

The Common Cold

A major difference between the cold and flu is that a cold probably wont' you a high fever or body aches. Fevers signaling a cold are generally low-grade, between 99 and 100 degrees.


In addition, a cold or virus typically operates on a schedule, meaning that their symptoms come in order. Symptoms that signal a cold include:

  • Sore throat: this often develops at the onset of a cold.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.
  • Cough: once congestion begins to clear.

Most colds actually are viral and do not require antibiotics. Antibiotics are only useful in bacterial infections, and don't usually provide relief in viral cases. Remember, it's not guaranteed that mucus color indicates an infection even if yours is sometimes green - if it gets lighter in color and thinner, you probably don't have an infection.


Fall Common Cold


A signal that you have allergies instead of a cold or the flu is when your mucus is clear, as opposed to yellow or green. The mucus also tends to be a little bit more runny. 


Changes in weather can bring on allergies due to increased irritants in the area, particularly in September's high ragweed season. Allergy symptoms may include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose.
  • Scratchy throat.
  • Eye & nasal pressure.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Sneezing.

Mild allergies can with can be helped with over-the-counter allergy medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays.

The best way to fight sickness is to prevent it from spreading in the first place. Mountain Ice Advanced Hand Sanitizer is an effective formulation that will help stop the spread of cold and flu while preventing your hands from drying out. You can find it right here!

Try our natural topical gels


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