Cold, Flu, Allergy Symptoms and Treatments


Cold, flu or allergy

What's the difference?

It's the sneeze season when millions of us get sick and feel less than our best. Before you reach for the tissues and cough drops, make sure you know what really ails you. Is it a cold, the flu or something else, like an allergy? It's the only way to know how best to treat the symptoms and avoid infecting those around you.

Download a pdf version of our Cold, Flu or Allergy chart

Download our Cold, Flu or Allergy charts
for a quick guide to symptoms, treatments
and medications for common colds and flu.


Know the symptoms and treatment for a cold, flu or seasonal allergies.

You may think you know those tell-tale signs of the most common illnesses. But did you know that colds and allergies share many of the same symptoms? Runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion are common to both.

"Many people don't realize that allergies are common this time of year as well as in the spring," said Angie Mattern, NP, Nurse Practitioner with Goshen Physicians. "For some, allergy symptoms are present all year."

What to do if you have a cold or flu

We asked Angie to share her best suggestions to help you feel better if you get sick with a common cold or influenza.

Drink lots of fluids. "Your fever won't come down if you are dehydrated," said Angie. Signs of dehydration include no urine for eight hours, a dry mouth or no tears in infants and children.

Honey helps. Anyone over 1 year of age can use the sweet, natural remedy to treat a sore throat or cough. Use one-half to one teaspoon per dose.

Take time for tea. Warm, decaffeinated tea with honey helps relieve a cough or sore throat.

Use nasal spray. A saline-based spray can help all ages, including infants, according to Angie. "It thins the secretions and makes it easier to get the mucus out," she said. Use a bulb syringe, cough or blow your nose to get the mucus out.

When to get medical care

Usually, you can treat a cold or flu with over-the-counter remedies and plenty of rest. Contact your healthcare provider if symptoms last more than 10 days without improvement or are unusual or severe.

Here are other reasons to get medical attention:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feel pain or pressure in chest or belly
  • Signs of confusion
  • Severe vomiting
  • Sudden onset of dizziness
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears)
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • Cough worsens despite use of cough medicine
  • Sinus pain that doesn’t improve with pain reliver/decongestants

Need a healthcare provider to take care of your family’s health needs? Nurse Practitioner Angie Mattern is welcoming new patients, call her office at (574) 537-0519. Or search our Goshen Physicians network for a provider, specialist or location that's right for you.

We're here to help

We want to keep you feeling your best in any season. Download our Cold, Flu or Allergy charts for a quick guide to symptoms, treatments and medications for common colds and flu.