How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19
How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19

How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19

As the allergy season collides with yet another increase In COVID-19 cases nationwide, it can be difficult to decipher the difference between coronavirus symptoms and allergies. So how do you tell the difference between the two?

“The pollen count has increased throughout the country, and the symptoms can be quite similar,” said board-certified allergist, pediatrician and immunologist Dr. Anjuli Mehrotra to CBS News’ Vladimir Duthiers and Nancy Chen on Thursday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms between seasonal allergies and COVID may include cough, headache, and fatigue.

Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath, which is a symptom consistent with COVID unless the person has a respiratory disorder such as asthma. Also, allergies do not typically cause fever, chills, body aches, or loss of taste or smell, all of which are common symptoms of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, COVID does not usually cause sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose or sore throat, which are common allergy symptoms, the CDC says.

Despite the differences in symptoms, Mehrotra urges those who are unsure to take the mistake of caution.

“It’s actually best to consider it COVID until proven otherwise,” she said. “If you have symptoms, I would not hesitate to take a COVID-19 test at home, specifically a quick antigen test could be really helpful in this scenario.”

Mehrotra said those who have seasonal allergies do not have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 or of experiencing more severe symptoms with the virus. However, she warned that people with moderate to severe asthma may have an increased risk of being admitted with COVID.

According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergies each year. Allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to a foreign substance such as pollen or dandruff from animals.

First published April 14, 2022 / 18:54

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