Editor's note: If you're anything like us, you're playing Austin's most popular game right now: Do I have a cold, allergies, the flu or am I just dying a slow painful death from sneezing? Lucky our friends over at KVUE have put together a report helping us tell the difference — and get a correct diagnosis the first time.
KVUE — Doctors say the initial symptoms of a common cold, bronchitis, the flu and cedar fever are extremely similar, so getting an early, correct diagnosis can save you sick time and may even save your life.
What's in the air these days in Central Texas? Just about everything that can make you sick.
"This is a perfect storm of respiratory problems in Austin," said Bill Howland, M.D., an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Austin. "There's viruses, bronchitis, influenza and high cedar pollen count all together, so it is confusing for the average person to know what problems they have."
It's certainly been a problem for Judy Shoemaker. "I kept treating myself like I was getting the flu, but it wasn't the flu," Shoemaker said. "It was allergies, so they do feel very similar."
Howland said cedar fever is a misnomer, because sufferers don't experience fever.
"A mother of a five-year old called us this week and said her child had a fever of 103.8," said Howland. "She asked if she should take her child to the coast to get away from the cedar allergy. We said immediately, 'Contact your physician, because this could be flu.'"
So, how do you know if you have a viral illness such as flu or bronchitis or an allergy?
"One thing I tell my patients is, if you have allergies you should at least get somewhat better with allergy medicines," said Howland.
To read the full story, please go to KVUE.