Blog

April 27, 2020

Allergies or COVID-19? How to Tell the Difference. 

Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

Spring has sprung, which means allergies are in full bloom. While coughing and the sniffles are nothing new to people who suffer perennially, the threat of coronavirus has many people second-guessing their allergy symptoms and wondering if they’re really coming down with COVID-19. While there is overlap, here are some ways to tell the difference:

  1. Congestion is likely caused by allergies. Less than 5% of coronavirus patients experience sneezing or a runny nose.
  2. A fever is a sign of something more. Allergies almost never cause a fever, while nearly 90% of coronavirus patients have one. 
  3. A dry cough is something to watch. A cough can signal allergies, the flu and coronavirus. Since 70% of coronavirus patients experience a cough, you’ll need to keep an eye on other symptoms. 
  4. Shortness of breath is a red flag. Allergies can cause some shortness of breath, but if it’s severe or unlike symptoms you usually experience, talk to a health care provider. 
  5. Follow your instincts. Allergies can make you feel lousy, but they don’t cause aches, pains, fatigue and exhaustion, which are associated with the flu and coronavirus.  

 
Warmer weather has brought an earlier spring, and with that, intense allergy symptoms that are compounding coronavirus confusion and anxiety. Before you hit the panic button, understand the differences, and when in doubt, call your health care provider for guidance.