Cold, Flu, Allergies: Can You Tell the Difference?


Fall is commonly known as the gateway to the cold and flu season. The majority of people out there are beginning to safeguard themselves and their families in order to be protected against germs, bacteria, and viruses.

While the cold and flu season is big, we can’t forget about allergies. When the cooler weather appears, usually allergens appear along with it. Unfortunately, cold and flu season can make fall allergies harder to identify and properly treat.

How to Identify the Source

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 35 million people in the US suffer from pollen allergies or hay fever. Unfortunately, fall allergies, flu viruses, and colds share some of the same symptoms: sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose; coughing; itchy nose and throat; and dark circles under the eyes.

Here’s how you can tell the difference.

  • Time – Cold and flu symptoms usually make themselves known over a few days and then die off. However, allergic reactions can happen almost immediately and last a long time. In the worst cases, they can even last year round.
  • Treatment – Flu and cold viruses need to run their course. However, allergy symptoms like postnasal drip and watery/itchy eyes can be improved with the right care.
  • Temperature – Here’s the unfortunate news. If you have a fever, you more than likely have the flu or a cold.

Knowing how to identify your symptoms source is half the battle. And just like we take precautions to limit the threat of flu viruses and colds, there are some things we can do to also protect against allergies. The first step? Understand the common allergens associated with the fall season.

Safeguard against Fall Allergies

  • Outdoor Allergens — One of the most prevalent allergens in the fall is Ragweed. It can produce up to one billion pollen grains per plant! This makes it responsible for up to 75% of reactions in people with hay fever. Along with ragweed, a common fall allergen that can lurk in corn mazes and hay bales is mold. Don’t forget all of the multi-colored leaves.
  • Indoor Allergens — We’re giving you a fair warning. Staying inside and hiding from fall allergens is not the best way to avoid them. Recent studies have found that indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air. This is due to existing indoor allergens like dust mites and pet dander. Outdoor allergens are sneaky and can find their way into your home on your clothes, hair, and pets.
  • Airborne Allergens — When you open your windows in milder temperatures, that fresh air can carry a lot of airborne allergens directly into your home. This is especially a bad idea on days that have a high pollen count. If you really need to air out your home, remember to do some research from a reputable source that offers allergy tracking.

Reduce, Remove, Relieve

Just like flu and cold viruses, you can limit your exposure to allergens, but you can’t destroy them fully. However, you can reduce and remove existing allergens to achieve maximum relief. Routine cleaning and high-quality filters can help reduce and remove indoor allergens and relieve your symptoms.

  • Reduce — One way to reduce allergens is to install a high-quality furnace filter. Just make sure it has a minimum filtration rating of MERV 8. Remember to vacuum your rugs and carpeting at least weekly with a HEPA equipped vacuum cleaner. This will help reduce all kinds of allergens in your house!
  • Remove — One of the best ways to start the season off right is to get a deep cleaning from your local Chem-Dry. In a study conducted by a leading independent lab, our proprietary Hot Carbonating Extraction (HCE) process was found to remove, on average, 98% of common household allergens, such as dog and cat dander and dust mites, from carpets and upholstery. When a sanitizer was added, 89% of airborne bacteria is removed. Additionally, our low-water HCE process uses about 80% less water than typical steam cleaners. This means your carpets will dry in just hours. Get back to your life quicker without the risk of mold and mildew growth within your carpet. A professional cleaning from Chem-Dry is safer for your home and healthier for you and your family.
  • Relieve — The bad news is some indoor and outdoor allergens are going to find their way to you. The good news is you don’t have to live with them. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, a professional cleaning from Chem-Dry may be all you need to provide the healthiest home for your family.

To learn more about creating a healthy home, schedule an appointment or request a free quote, find a Chem-Dry carpet cleaner in your area.