COVID-19 or allergies? (How to Spot the Difference) | Guest View
Last updated 7/6/2021 at 12:32pm
It starts with a runny nose, then develops into a wheezing cough and red itchy eyes.
You panic – how do you know if you are experiencing symptoms from the dreaded COVID-19 or just your regular seasonal allergies?
Warmer weather in Washington is when nature starts to show off. For many of my patients that suffer from allergies however, the blooming plants and pollen that accompany the warm Washington weather are less than welcome. This time of year can already be challenging for allergy sufferers, but COVID-19 has brought on new anxieties for many.
So how do you tell the difference between the virus and allergies? When it comes to allergies, there is one word to remember: itch. Itchy eyes, itchy nose, and sneezing are common symptoms of springtime allergies. In addition to the itchy symptoms, you can also have a runny, congested nose, and a sore throat and/or a cough (caused by postnasal drip).
The Main Difference
While shortness of breath and a cough can be common symptoms of both allergies and COVID-19, there is one symptom that should not overlap: fever.
A running fever is one of the most common symptoms reported in patients with COVID-19, and is not caused by allergies. In adults, a fever is a temperature of over 100.4 degrees.
In some cases, COVID-19 has been known to cause pink eye (conjunctivitis). It is important to note, however, that allergy conjunctivitis usually affects both eyes and is accompanied by additional allergy symptoms. Viral conjunctivitis is usually accompanied by water discharge (which feels like slightly thicker, sticky tears).
If your eye allergy symptoms include fever, chest pain or pressure, or breathing issues it would be wise to call your healthcare provider right away for medical advice.
The Bottom Line
If you have had seasonal allergies before, and are not running a fever, and have an itch associated with your symptoms, you can be fairly confident that you are suffering from seasonal allergies and not COVID-19.
If you are concerned, however, call your healthcare provider. We are always happy to help you during this uncertain time. We are in this together.