Flu or allergic rhinitis: how to differentiate them?

Flu or allergic rhinitis how to differentiate them

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    in collaboration with

    Dr Gérald Kierzek (Medical Director of Doctissimo)

    Medical validation:
    January 09, 2023

    While the hay fever season started early this year, many French people are wondering. How to distinguish a simple flu syndrome from an allergic reaction? Update with Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of Doctissimo.

    The particularly mild temperatures of the past few weeks have greatly advanced the hay fever season. This very mild start to the year has indeed favored the flowering of alders and hazelnut trees, according to the National Aerobiological Surveillance Network (RNSA). Bad news for people with allergies.

    Allergy to pollens: the whole South is concerned

    According to the RNSAtwo French areas are affected by pollen: the south-west of the country and the Mediterranean rim.

    In the first zone, it is the pollens of Cupressaceae, ash, alder and hazel that pose a problem and have increased the risk of allergy to “average level“.

    On the South-East side, if all the regions have moved into the yellow zone (medium level allergic risk), it is because of the presence of pollen from Cupressaceae-Taxaceae and ash trees “which are increasing and are very allergenic“, specifies the network.

    The problem ? While the allergy symptoms are many and varied – runny nose, watery eyes, stuffy nose, itching, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, and clear mucus – they closely resemble those of flu-like illness.

    No fever or muscle pain with hay fever

    To distinguish them, Dr. Kierzek gives us some practical tips.

    When you are the victim of an allergy, you do not have a fever or muscle aches, whereas in the case of the flu, yes. It is these typical symptoms that differentiate the two conditions. Another important point: the rate of symptoms. For example, if you only show signs outside your home and at home they stop, it is very likely that it is a hay fever type allergy.“, reveals the medical director of Doctissimo.

    On the treatment side, good news: paracetamol is effective in both cases.

    It is also recommended to ventilate your home regularly, to clean it and to fight against humidity. If in doubt about the treatment to follow, do not hesitate to seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor.“, says Dr. Kierzek.