Seasonal allergies are here, and unfortunately so is COVID-19.
Identifying the differences in symptoms is a positive first step towards seeking the right support and keeping that curve flatter.
There are many similarities between the two conditions which is why we wanted to help you identify some key differences to help you easily differentiate between the two.
The first is fever — if you have one it’s not due to allergies. Although some people call seasonal allergies by the common term hay fever, the condition known as allergic rhinitis does not actually cause fever. So, if you have a fever we’d have to look at other causes.
Another consistent complaint with COVID-19 is that it causes muscle aches or digestive issues: this is not the case with seasonal allergies. The digestive symptoms we are referring to include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which are, again, not allergy symptoms.
On the flipside, one of the most frequent and definitive symptoms for people with allergies are itchy, watery eyes and nose: this is not common for COVID-19 infection.
Some of the symptoms that are similar for both can include fatigue, congestion and cough:
- Fatigue associated with COVID-19 is usually debilitating and does not allow you to get out of bed; whereas fatigue associated with allergies usually comes from simply not sleeping well (which should not warrant long-term bed rest)
- Congestion can occur with both, but if you’re having itching along with the congestion it is most likely allergies (not COVID-19)
- If you have allergies you may have a cough from an irritation at the back of your throat from an itch and/or post nasal drip; if you have allergic asthma you may also have a cough related to your allergies (with asthma, using your asthma inhaler usually gives you immediate relief of the cough and shortness of breath if related to asthma but may not help as much with a COVID-19); but cough from COVID-19 will be a dry cough and is sometimes associated with shortness of breath (which again will not improve immediately as it does with asthma)
In addition, if you have a sudden onset of loss of smell or taste you should immediately consult your doctor, as both symptoms have been associated with allergies as well as COVID-19.
In all cases, should you still be confused or experiencing your symptoms worsen, call your healthcare provider.
In addition, you can also use Cleared’s telemedicine and our team of allergists to help you find the answers you need.
We are always here to help.
-Payel Gupta, MD
Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder, Cleared