3 Dangerous Symptoms Disguised as the Common Cold

On last night's Glee, Mr. Shue came down with a nasty virus that almost led to him losing his gig as club director of New Directions. When he first starts feeling hot and woozy, he tries to shrug it off and "power through" teaching the glee kids. But it doesn't work. He ends up sick as a dog, in bed, being taken care of by his looney-tunes ex-wife.

We've all been there, right? The feeling of "coming down" with a bug is disgusting. Usually we're quick to conclude that we have a cold or the flu, but what if it's not?

Here, a few sneaky symptoms that pose as a cold or the flu ... but are really something else completely. 


1. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon nausea

You ate breakfast, drank your coffee like normal, but then, a couple of hours later, you're feeling totally nauseous. You're not pregnant, so you think, Must be the flu! Right? Nope, not necessarily. If you haven't eaten in awhile, or you're like many a workaholic and think you can subsist on coffee and Diet Coke alone, you may be nauseous because you're experiencing a major dip in blood sugar. If you're experiencing weakness, visual disturbances, shaking or sweating, dizziness, or confusion, get thee a protein and fiber rich snack (like a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese with an apple) STAT! This will boost your blood sugar but not in a way that will cause it to plummet again. And you'll be on your way to feeling less seasick.

2. Pounding headache that sinus meds won't help

You have a headache, and you have a stuffy nose, so you figure they're related. So, you take a decongestant, figuring it'll do the trick. And it fails you ... in fact, it may have made your headache worse! What the ...? You're left to guess, "Must be a cold." Nope, not necessarily. In one study of almost 3,000 adults who thought they had sinus headaches, 88 percent actually had a migraine! It's not too crazy to get the two mixed up, because when the trigeminal nerve (the brain's pathway for migraine pain signals) is triggered during a migraine, it can also cause congestion. Plus, migraines can come on strong in these shorter, darker days leading up to the Winter Solstice, thanks to declining levels of serotonin that can set off migraines ... yuck. Thankfully, there are a bunch of good (and natural!) fixes for migraines.

3. Symptoms that go on for over 5 days and are worse in the middle of the night and morning

You're hacking, sneezing, coughing, tearing up so much that you can't even sleep. You just can't catch a break from this torturous "cold." Well, that's because it may not be a cold. Docs say that if your symptoms exceed five days and tend to drive you nuts in the middle of the night and morning but also seem to resolve a bit into midday ... you're likely suffering from allergies. Pollen isn't the only culprit. This time of year, mold (which commonly crops up when tons of leaves are all hanging out on the ground in wet piles) or dust mites (which live in your warm and cozy bedroom) could be triggering your discomfort. The good news: Antihistamines help.

What happened the last time you experienced what felt like a cold/the flu, looked like a cold/the flu ... but wasn't either?


Image via mcfarlandmo/Flickr

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