If you're like most people, allergies are a yearly occurrence. But ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, it's important to be able to distinguish between the two. Typical allergy symptoms can often be similar to those of the COVID-19 virus. As the weather gets warmer, your allergies may start acting up, and it could be worrisome if you aren’t sure what you are experiencing. That’s why we’ve outlined everything you need to know about COVID symptoms, allergy symptoms, and how you can tell the difference.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is spread through contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, mucus, or blood, from an infected person. These can be passed through coughing or sneezing, or by touching a surface that has been contaminated and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Dry cough.
- Aches and pains.
- Nasal congestion or runny nose.
- Sore throat.
- Shortness of breath.
- New loss of taste or smell.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe, and symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should reach out to your doctor to be tested for COVID-19.
A seasonal allergy is a type of allergic reaction that only occurs during a certain season. Seasonal allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to something in the environment, like pollen in the air. For instance, summer involves the rise of many types of grass, so it is considered grass pollen season, which can trigger allergy symptoms.
Symptoms can vary with each person and each allergy, but the most common allergy symptoms are:
- Stuffy or runny nose, with clear or pale-colored mucus.
- Itchy eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Red, watery eyes.
- Scratchy or sore throat.
These symptoms usually appear gradually over a period of days or weeks. Allergy symptoms can be bothersome, but if you know that you get seasonal allergies, there are ways you can prevent them. A few steps you can take to prepare for allergy season are:
- Reduce your exposure - Reducing your exposure to allergens can help you to avoid symptom flare-ups. You can do this by staying indoors when pollen counts are high, wearing a dust mask when you have to go outside, and showering after being outdoors.
- Keep indoor air clean - Another way to reduce your exposure to allergens is to keep the air in your home clean. This can be done by vacuuming regularly, using an air purifier, and avoiding strong-smelling fragrances.
- Take OTC medications - Many over-the-counter medications can help remedy allergy symptoms, including antihistsamines, nasal sprays, oral decongestants, and more.
If you have been struggling with allergies for a long time, or your symptoms get in the way of your daily life, you should reach out to an allergist to help you manage your symptoms.
How to Tell The Difference Between Allergies and COVID-19
In today’s world, a simple sneeze or scratchy throat can set off alarm bells in your head. It is important to know the difference between allergies and COVID-19 so you can put your mind at ease and know whether or not to visit your doctor. Some key things to remember when distinguishing between allergies and COVID are:
- Allergy symptoms typically last longer than symptoms of a virus.
- People with allergies likely have a history of seasonal allergies, so you can use that knowledge in making your distinction.
- Allergy symptoms will often respond to allergy medications.
- Allergies do not cause fever, and COVID-19 often does cause patients to develop a fever.
- Allergies often cause itching, which is not a symptom of COVID-19.
- Body aches are a symptom of COVID-19, but they are rarely a symptom of allergies.
- COVID-19 can cause chills, whereas allergies will never cause chills.
Seasonal allergies and COVID-19 may occasionally share symptoms like headache, dry cough, or sore throat. The best way that you can get clarity on what you are feeling is to visit your doctor. If you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms, reach out to your doctor at Premier Medical Associates. Whether you need an allergist or primary care, you will be in good hands with our expert team of physicians.
Premier Medical Associates is an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network and is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our highly experienced care team provides services like Endocrinology and primary care for you and your loved one’s needs. If you would like more information, please follow up with your primary care physician.