Seasonal Allergies or COVID-19?

By Pat Carragher - April 08, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches the one-year mark, spring has sprung for a second time. So are the symptoms you’re showing a result of all that pollen in the air? Or is COVID-19 to blame?

Seasonal allergies tend to bring on symptoms like itchy eyes and nose, clear nasal discharge, sore scratchy throat and lots of sneezing. Less common symptoms include headache, fatigue, sinus pressure and cough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe. You may have COVID-19 if you are experiencing:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

So, how can you tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19?

According to Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Department at Moffitt Cancer Center, the key symptom is wheezing.

Dr. John Greene, chair, Infectious Diseases Department
Dr. John Greene, chair, Infectious Diseases Department

“Both allergies and COVID can easily cause a cough,” said Greene. “But the shortness of breath and wheezing could indicate the possibility of COVID.”

The loss of taste and smell is also a key indicator of COVID-19. If you experience this symptom you should get tested for coronavirus. Greene advises anyone who experiences wheezing or shortness of breath to seek medical attention.

According to a recent European study, allergies can lower your ability to produce immune-boosting chemicals, making you much more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

“That’s an intriguing association that many people are not aware of,” said Greene. “So there’s sort of a double whammy with pollen.”

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