Coughing, sneezing, runny nose: Is it the flu or allergies?

Coughing, sneezing, runny nose: Is it the flu or allergies? (Sydney Glenn/WPDE)

It hasn't felt like winter the past few weeks along the Grand Strand and in the Pee Dee.

The unseasonably warm weather is causing plants to bloom and the pollen to fall. That means allergies for many people, but since the flu season is still in full swing, some people are confused.

Both allergies and the flu share several symptoms, Dr. Mark Schecker, an Allergist with Grand Strand Medical Center, said.

"Both are upper respiratory tract problems. So you see things like runny nose or sneezing, congestion in the nose, drainage in the throat, coughing with both of those problems," he said.

If you have a fever, it's likely not allergies, Dr. Schecker said.

“Usually illnesses like the flu, and other viral illnesses like the common cold, will cause things that are usually not typical of allergies," he said.

The best way to know why you're not feeling well is to see a doctor.

Related: Early warm weather could also mean an early allergy season

Allergies can often be mistaken for other things.

“It has happened with many people that we’ve seen in here who’ve come in thinking their allergies have gotten worse, or maybe they’ve had a sinus infection and it turned out to be the flu," Dr. Schecker said.

The flu season has slowed down in the past few weeks, Dr. Paul Richardson with Conway Medical Center said.

“So far, we have seen our numbers try to trend downwards as far as positive flu cases," he said.

Doctors are still urging people to get the flu shot, even after they recover from the flu.

“You can take the flu shot after you do have the flu. Because potentially you could be exposed to another strain of the virus," Dr. Richardson said.

To see the weekly South Carolina flu report, click here.

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