Stuffy nose? Cough? Wheezing?
As the allergy season intensifies during the COVID-19 pandemic, many have wondered if their respiratory symptoms are due to the novel coronavirus.
Allergist and immunologist Nicholas Hartog, MD, provides clarity between seasonal allergies and the virus.
“To make a difference, history counts”, Spectrum health said the doctor. “If you had allergy symptoms every spring and they are similar symptoms to those you had in previous seasons, it would be more likely to be allergies. If you’ve never had spring allergies before, but suddenly have symptoms, it’s less likely that they’re new allergies. “
The chances that your respiratory symptoms indicate an increase in COVID-19 if you have been exposed up close to someone known to have COVID-19.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and body aches. Common allergy symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchy or itchy eyes. The two share several occasional symptoms, which can cause confusion in people.
In terms of symptoms between the two conditions which are very different: fever, body aches and gastrointestinal problems.
A high fever that lasts for several days or more than a week has become a hallmark of people who test positive for COVID-19. “Slight rises in temperature can occur with allergies, although this is not common,” Dr. Hartog said. Beware of a sustained fever above 101.4 degrees.
Body aches, like the flu, are common in COVID-19 but rare in people with seasonal allergies.
Another differentiating factor would be gastrointestinal symptoms.
“We have started to notice that gastrointestinal symptoms rarely occur in COVID-19,” said Dr. Hartog. “It can include abdominal pain and diarrhea. These do not occur in allergies. “
Gastrointestinal symptoms, along with other symptoms of COVID-19, could be a clue that you have the virus, but gastrointestinal symptoms alone are not a primary indicator.
“This does not mean that all people with diarrhea should be concerned,” he warned.
The same goes for a loss of smell or a sore throat, which sometimes occurs with seasonal allergies.
In terms of difficulty breathing, seasonal allergies could make wheezing worse in people with known asthma.
“Other than that, allergies don’t make your breathing worse,” Dr. Hartog said.
While many patients with COVID-19 experience shortness of breath, they do not experience the characteristic asthma symptom of wheezing.
“Check out the symptom checker below,” Dr. Hartog said. “And, if in doubt, please call your primary care provider.”