UT University Health Services

Is it Allergies, a Cold, or the Flu?

In the spring 2017 National College Health Assessment, more than one in ten UT Austin students reported that colds, flu, and/or sore throats caused them to get a lower grade in a class or on an exam or important project, receive an incomplete, drop a course, or withdraw within the previous 12 months.

While colds and flu have symptoms in common, flu symptoms usually come on much more suddenly and severely.

This chart can help you figure out whether you may have a cold, the flu, or seasonal allergies.


Common Cold
Influenza (Flu)
Seasonal Allergies
Stuffy or runny nose
Yes
Sometimes
Runny, itchy nose
Fever
Sometimes; mild if resent
Usually, often 100 degrees F (38.8 degrees C) or higher.
No
Body Aches
Mild
Mild to severe
No
Chills
Sometimes
Yes, sometimes intense
No
Sore Throat
Often
Sometimes
Itchy or tickling throat
Fatigue, Weakness
Sometimes
Usually, can last a couple of weeks after recovery
Rarely
Feeling extremely exhausted
No
Yes
No
Headache
Sometimes
Usually, sometimes severe
Sinus pressure or stuffiness
Sinus drainage
Usually
Rarely
Often
Diarrhea, Vomiting
No
Sometimes
No
Cough
Mild to moderate
Usually, can become severe
Dry or with minimal mucus
Watering eyes
Sometimes
Sometimes, with fever
Itchy swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
Ears
Ear congestion
No
Ear congestion or popping
Sneezing
Usually
Sometimes
Yes
Timing
Anytime throughout the year
Most cases in Texas occur between October and May.
Anytime in Texas, but symptoms are often more intense in January and in the spring.


For More Information

Allergies (Seasonal)
Common Cold
Influenza

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