Allergies vs COVID: How to tell the difference

A slight uptick in the number of allergy/viral-like symptoms is very common for this time of year. With the added anxiety around the pandemic, now is a good time to review the similarities and more importantly, the differences. In addition, we have provided several important resources to help keep you informed and up to date including the latest on local testing sites.

The Symptoms of the Coronavirus:

According to the CDC, one prominent symptom of COVID-19 is a fever, with over 90% of patients testing positive having one. Fever is not a symptom of allergies. A severe, dry cough is another key symptom of having COVID-19 instead of allergies. While allergies can cause a cough, it will not be as prolonged and severe as it would with COVID-19. Unlike allergies that are ongoing, COVID-19 symptoms often only last for a week or two.

Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • severe fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

Symptoms Of Fall Allergies:

Starting in early August, ragweed will release its pollen, causing allergy symptoms for many people through early October. Mold spores also grow during this time and become even more common as trees shed their leaves, leaving them to decay on the ground.

Allergens in the air cause your immune system to release histamines, which will cause inflammation, nasal drip, and itchy/watery eyes. One symptom that is present in allergies, but not likely with the novel coronavirus is sneezing. If your symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks and have occurred in the fall months in the past, then you likely have allergies.

A full list of allergy symptoms are:

  • sneezing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • watery and itchy eyes
  • itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
  • ear congestion
  • postnasal drainage
  • mild fatigue
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • coughing

Generally, allergies do not cause a fever. Sometimes, however, allergy symptoms can make you vulnerable to a bacterial or viral infection. And a bacterial or viral infection can lead to a fever, so you can indirectly blame the fever on your allergy.