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How To Tell If Its Seasonal Allergies Or COVID-19

Seasonal allergies or COVID-19? There is some overlap in symptoms.
Seasonal allergies or COVID-19? There is some overlap in symptoms. Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s that time of the year again. Trees and flowers bloom, sending pollen through the air and onto sidewalks, cars, and ourselves. Those with allergies are starting to feel the symptoms as winter fades into spring and the weather becomes more pleasant.

But this year you may be questioning your standard routine: are these symptoms just my standard allergies or is it something I need to take more seriously?

COVID-19 and common allergies do have some symptom overlap. A cough, headaches, and tiredness are symptoms that can commonly arise with seasonal allergies and the COVID-19 virus; however, there are many more differences than similarities.

“Usually for someone with known seasonal allergies, if the symptoms are the same as in previous years, then COVID-19 is unlikely,” said Dr. Mihai Smina of Northwell Health. “Patients with seasonal allergies usually know their symptoms well. If there is any changes especially if fever, chills and most importantly dyspnea (difficulty breathing) occurs then COVID-19 infection should be suspected.”

Allergic rhinitis, the medical term for seasonal allergies caused by pollen, animal dander, or dust, affects up to 30 percent of adults in the United States and as many as 40 percent of children. These antigens trigger an immune response in your body, activating histamines and other immune mediators to create the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are sneezing, runny or congested nose, and itchy or watery eyes. These are symptoms not seen with COVID-19. On the other hand, COVID-19 may present with fever, loss of taste or smell, a sore throat, or diarrhea. These symptoms are not found in those with normal seasonal allergies.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of seasonal allergies, doctors recommend trying a daily over-the-counter medication, such as Claritin. If these over-the-counter medications are not working, you may need to seek out professional testing to determine exactly what allergen is causing your issues.

Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by an immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, typically appear 2 to 7 days following infection with the virus. Some carriers of the virus may not even present with symptoms. While younger people may be more predisposed to developing seasonal allergies, COVID-19 more seriously affects older people, although all ages are at risk and can spread the virus at a high rate.

If you are worried you may have contracted the COVID-19 virus, immediately contact your primary care physician to go through proper testing and isolation protocols and be sure to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible. If you think you need to be tested for allergies, you can contact 914-366-5490.