Stuffy nose, runny eyes, scratchy throat, headache, body aches, you know the usual list where we think we have a cold – or is it? How often do we start to get symptoms but refuse to admit it could be more than a cold? We go to work, the gym, meetings, and church, all while spreading whatever it is we have going on saying, it’s “just a cold.”  Studies show that the most common complaint and need for appointments are surrounded by these common symptoms.  Here are some easy ways to look at symptoms and determine if it’s “just a cold,” the flu, or maybe even allergies. Then you add in Covid and RSV, and what’s a person to do these days?

Let’s sort this out.

First – do you have covid test? Take it! Right there might give you some answers!

Next, we are using the info from the Centers for Disease Control to help us decide between the illness outside of covid.

Fevers: Fevers are a sign of the flu, but a cold can also present itself with a mild fever. If you’re an adult and you have a fever higher than 102, it’s likely that your body is dealing with more than a cold.

Headaches, Body aches, and Pains: Sometimes when we have a cold this can happen, and also if we have the flu. Headaches so concentrated they cause problems with your concentration or ability to think clearly should be checked out by a doctor. If you’re so achy and weak that even getting out of bed seems almost impossible, it’s time to seek medical help.

Fatigue and Weakness: Fatigue and weakness are unfortunately signs of all 3! Seems when our bodies are working extra hard to keep us healthy, we can get tired.

Runny Nose: A runny nose can be from a cold, the flu, or even allergies.

Itchy Eyes: This can sometimes be caused by a cold, but not the flu, and most likely from allergies.

Congestion:  Being stuffed up can happen with a cold and allergies but is less likely with the flu.

Sneezing: If you can’t seem to stop sneezing, this is more consistent with a cold and allergies, yet sometimes seen with the flu.

Sore Throat: Sore throats are mostly caused by the common cold but can also be a sign of the flu and allergies.

Coughing: If you are coughing you are less likely to have allergies, but it may be from a cold, the flu, or other respiratory conditions.

If after this list you are certain it’s “just a cold,” remember to hydrate, rest and eat light and healthy. Drink: When a body is fighting infections and mucus is not your friend, you want to keep that mucus thinned out and everything else hydrated. Focus on drinking lots of water, and hot tea can also be very soothing. Avoid high-sugar drinks and caffeine while you are ill. REST: Your body needs restoration and time to heal. Now isn’t the time to focus on beating your six-minute mile time. Get extra sleep and relax while not sleeping. Stress and lack of sleep do no favors to your immune system.  EAT: When you are sick you might have no appetite at all, or you may only want junk food. Eat foods that are healing and healthy. Vegetable or chicken soups are great. They pack lots of nutrients and more hydration for the body. Avoid foods that are low in nutrients and high in sugar. You want foods that will service your body to feel better, not weigh you down and add guilt to your healing. Remember we know how masks can be helpful too! Keep your germs with you by popping on a mask!

When in doubt always contact your healthcare provider to be sure. If you are a patient with North Country Hospital you can even do this through the patient portal and if you have not signed up for the patient portal, you should! The portal allows you to email your doctor, book appointments, look at past lab results, etc. To sign up for an account you can contact your medical practice or go to the North Country Hospital website:  That being said, if you aren’t sure, give your doctor a call, always better to be safe than sorry. Seeking medical help can mean relief for you even sooner than you thought. You will feel better, and so will those around you if you know the truth because sometimes it’s not always “just a cold.”


Mary Hoadley

Director Of The Wellness Center