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How To Tell Whether You Have The Flu, A Common Cold, Or Allergic Rhinitis

Updated on August 4, 2010
Do you have the flu, a common cold, or allergic rhinitis?
Do you have the flu, a common cold, or allergic rhinitis?

Sometimes it's hard to tell allergic rhinitis apart from a common cold, or the common cold from the flu. A flu (a.k.a. influenza) is generally a more severe illness than the common cold, and although their symptoms may be similar, influenza and the common cold are caused by totally different types of viruses. Allergic rhinitis (a.k.a. hay fever) on the other hand is the least severe of the three. It occurs when a person with a sensitized immune system inhales an allergen such as pollen or dust which triggers the production of antibodies.

The chart below will help you determine whether you have the flu, a common cold, or allergic rhinitis in order for you to choose the best course of action to take.

Common Cold
Allergic Rhinitis
runny nose
dry cough
sore throat
muscle aches
hoarse voice

Using The Chart

Now let's say you have a runny nose, you could have either three, right? But if you have a fever with your runny nose, then that rules out allergic rhinitis. And if you also feel tired and weak then you most likely have the flu.

And according to the chart, a flu is never associated with sneezing, so if you're spraying all over, you either have a cold or allergic rhinitis. Likewise, allergic rhinitis is never associated with a sore throat which happens often when you have the flu or a cold.

After determining whether you have a flu, the common cold, or allergic rhinitis, you should be able to better choose which treatment to apply.


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    • Viral Prajapati profile image

      Viral Prajapati 

      17 months ago from Ahmedabad

      It's a really helpful post..

    • Melanie Fourie profile image

      Melanie Fourie 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thanks for this superb informative hub :-) Have an awesome week (",)

    • HelloKitty170 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub, very informative!

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful chart thanks for that - that guy looks so miserable.

    • Susan Ng profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Ng Yu 

      8 years ago

      Haha, thanks Art. :) That "miserable old git" ought to be motivation enough to stay away from the wine then. Hehe. ;P

      That's too bad, crazybeanrider. :O Maybe you could ask Teacher Michelle (a.k.a. ripplemaker) to do long distance healing on you. Hehe. Thanks for the good rating. :)

    • crazybeanrider profile image

      Boo McCourt 

      8 years ago from Washington MI

      Yeah that poor fellow has it bad, useful information. It is nice to be able to tell what the difference is. I wish I had just a common cold. I have severe sinusititis that requires surgery. Rated up :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Jeeez what a miserable old git in the photo, looks like me the day after a night on the wine lol, nice lil hub ; )


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