Allergies or COVID? Our Experts Break Down the Difference

By April 23, 2021 April 26th, 2021 Uncategorized
Young lady suffering from allergies at home on the couch.

After a long winter of pandemic isolating and extreme weather in some states, the arrival of spring’s warmer temperatures and longer hours of daylight make it easier and more pleasant to spend time outside.

So how do you know if your new congestion, sneezes, cough, or fatigue are simply signs of seasonal allergies, or symptoms of COVID?

Key Symptoms: Commonalities and Differences

The CDC has provided many reliable references throughout the pandemic, including this September 2020 infographic pointing out the overlap in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies which include:

  • Headache
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Sore throat

The Mayo Clinic’s March 2021 post concurred, and both sources agree the following symptoms are far more common with COVID-19, and not with allergies:

  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When trying to determine whether you’re experiencing allergies or COVID, you may need to look no further than your eyes. Both the CDC and The Mayo Clinic indicate that itchy nose, eyes, mouth, and inner ear are associated with seasonal allergies, but not with COVID-19. The American Academy of Ophthalmology agrees:
“Coronavirus symptoms generally do not cause those uncomfortable itchy, watery eyes.”

Timing Your Testing

At LifeBrite Stokes, we care about your entire well-being. If you’re experiencing any extreme symptoms, such as significant difficulty breathing or serious chest pains, do not hesitate to call 911.

Your healthcare provider will also want to address any persistent symptoms that match those of COVID-19, so call them for a consultation as quickly as possible. If you take a test independently, let them know as well, so that they can be aware of and monitor your results.

If you learn you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, testing within 5-7 days of that exposure is also recommended, regardless of your symptoms.

Staying Protected

There are several things you can continue to do to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (as well as flu, the common cold, and other viruses). Though they may be familiar, the CDC still recommended these actions as recently as March 2021: 

Believe it or not, the face mask that protects you from COVID-19 may very well reduce your allergy symptoms, as well. A November 2020 study published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and covered in depth by VeryWell Health determined that for some people, wearing a face mask reduces symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies. 

Remember to wash your mask regularly, especially if you have allergies, as small pollen particles may still cling to it.

We at LifeBrite Stokes are your community health partner in all seasons and through all symptoms. To learn more about our services and facilities, please visit the LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes website. You can also learn more about Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher. LifeBrite Hospital Group operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories.