Is it COVID or Seasonal Allergies? How to Tell the Difference
As we approach the end of National Allergy Awareness Month in May, now is an excellent time to take a deep dive into the differences between seasonal allergies and COVID-19.
“This time of year, it can be difficult to sort out who has COVID, who has another common viral upper respiratory infection, and who has allergies, especially when we’re all hyperaware of being near people who are coughing or sneezing,” says CHLI internal medicine specialist Dr. Alexis Peraino.
Both conditions might seem the same on the surface—runny nose, sore throat, dry cough, itchy eyes. So, how can you tell if your sneeze is from COVID or allergies? We have some advice to help you.
Allergies vs. COVID
Ask yourself the following questions if you’re wondering whether you can blame allergies for your symptoms or if you need to schedule a COVID test. Consult your doctor with any concerns. You can also review the Mayo Clinic’s list of symptoms that are commonly found among allergy sufferers versus COVID patients.
Do you have a fever?
Viral infections, including COVID-19, are often accompanied by a fever. This is the body’s natural response to fighting an infection. Because allergies are not infections, they do not result in fevers. So, if you have COVID symptoms and a fever, you probably have COVID, not allergies.
Are you experiencing shortness of breath?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains that seasonal allergies do not usually cause difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. An exception is people who have an asthmatic reaction to a known allergen, such as pollen. Shortness of breath is considered an emergency warning sign regardless of whether you have a history of allergies or asthma. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or trouble breathing, see a doctor immediately.
Are your eyes, nose, and ears itching like crazy?
Allergy sufferers know the feeling of wanting to scratch out their eyeballs. This reaction is not common in COVID sufferers. If your eyes, nose, and ears are itchy and you don’t have other COVID symptoms like shortness of breath or a fever, it’s probably allergies.
Do your symptoms get better when you’re inside?
Seasonal allergies are a response to what’s going on outdoors. If you feel better after being inside for a while, you probably have allergies. COVID symptoms will get worse over time.
Does your body ache?
People don’t usually get body aches with allergies. However, this symptom is common among COVID sufferers. If you have body aches accompanied by chills, a fever, or other COVID symptoms, it’s likely COVID and not allergies.
How’s your digestive system?
COVID affects every system in your body, including your digestive system. It’s common for COVID sufferers to experience diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea. Allergy sufferers don’t commonly get these symptoms.
Can you taste and smell?
One of the tell-tale signs of COVID is a loss of taste and smell. While some allergy sufferers may experience a dullness of taste or smell due to congestion, it does not go away completely. With COVID, you might lose all sense of taste and smell rather suddenly.
When to Get A COVID Test
If you usually suffer from seasonal allergies, you likely recognize the symptoms—runny nose, congestion, headache, itchy eyes. If you start to feel other symptoms, including body aches, chills, a fever, loss of taste and smell, and gastrointestinal issues, you might need a COVID test. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or trouble breathing, get medical treatment immediately.
Call your doctor if you have any concerns about your symptoms. They will be able to help you identify whether you have allergies or COVID.
If you suffer from allergies, an integrative approach might help you. Contact us to learn about our integrative health packages.