How to Differentiate Between COVID-19 and Allergies

How to Differentiate Between COVID-19 and Allergies | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Spring is here and so is allergy season, but with COVID-19 also in full effect (and despite the decreased number of cases being reported in our province), this somewhat complicates things even further as many of the symptoms that are commonly associated with this deadly virus can also overlap with symptoms related to seasonal allergies, making it that much more difficult for people to differentiate between the two and leads them to wonder if they should be at all concerned about their health.

There are several key ways to differentiate between symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies. For example, fever and chills are two of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19. A fever, in particular, is indicative of an infection – whereas allergies don’t cause infections, and you also don’t develop a fever as a result of allergies. A previously under-reported symptom of COVID-19 but now one that is becoming more widely reported by individuals with the virus is that they notice a decrease in their sense of smell and taste, which is not a symptom associated with allergies. Someone with springtime allergies can, however, experience nasal congestion and sneezing, which are not typical symptoms of COVID-19 (though some have reported this.) If you’re suffering from nasal congestion but don’t have or think it’s allergies, then it’s more likely that you have a common cold. Whether a cold or allergies, symptoms such as nasal congestion can be reduced by taking a decongestant, which are available in pill or spray form.

Symptoms of allergies can also affect the eyes, and they, irritated, appear red, or be watery. These are also symptoms that are not reported with COVID-19. If these symptoms occur after you’ve been outside, or if it is during the spring season, then there is a higher likelihood that they are allergy related. If you’re having unexplained eye problems such as painful eyes or blurred vision, you should book a consultation with your optometrist. If your eye conditions persist, you may also need to be referred to an ophthalmologist.

All of that being said, every case is different, and new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 have been reported in the past. As mentioned earlier, loss of smell and taste; while other rare symptoms of COVID-19 include things such as rash and dizziness, in addition to cardiovascular-related issues and blood clotting. More recently, there has also been a link to COVID-19 and a newly-discovered illness in children similar to toxic-shock like syndrome or Kawasaki disease.

Whatever symptoms you experience, it’s important to closely monitor yourself. If your symptoms persist or worsen, a visit to your physician may be warranted but you should first book a telehealth appointment. From there, they will be able to determine if you need to be examined in-person or recommend any medications, etcetera.