How to tell the difference between allergy and COVID symptoms



Allergy medications that you can buy without a prescription are considered relatively safe and can be taken long term, but may not be the best treatment option if your allergy symptoms are severe or symptoms persist despite taking medications. . Fotolia / TNS


Here’s another year where you wonder if your coughing or sneezing is really coronavirus or seasonal allergies. Unlike COVID-19, a virus does not cause seasonal allergies, but rather a wide array of plants, herbs, or pollen – all of which have their own unique window of opportunity to lodge in people’s airways. .

COVID-19, on the other hand, can infect people anytime and anywhere, although some preventive measures such as vaccination and wearing a mask may offer some protection. It also doesn’t help that more than two-thirds of people with spring allergies have symptoms year-round, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The most common allergen during the fall season is ragweed, which grows almost everywhere, according to the ACAAI, but primarily on the East Coast and Midwest. The wild plant flowers and releases pollen from August to November, with some areas experiencing a peak in ragweed pollen in mid-September.

The weather can also affect bad seasons for allergies. Mild winters, for example, can trigger early pollination for some plants. A study published in February even found that allergy seasons lasted around 20 days longer and produced around 20% more pollen than 1990 estimates, thanks to global warming.

Besides grass, pollen, and mold, seasonal allergy triggers can also include smoke from campfires or chimneys, insect bites and stings, chlorine from swimming pools, candy ingredients during Halloween. and Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas pines.

Other allergens include bumblebee, pigweed, lamb’s quarters, mugwort, mugwort, tumbleweed, and Russian thistle.

While worrying when the first symptoms of the season appear, experts say the best way to confirm if you have COVID-19 or just allergies is to get tested. Here’s how to tell the difference.

What are the differences between allergy symptoms and COVID-19?

If you’re worried about whether you have COVID-19, check to see if you have a fever or body aches, says Dr Madeleine Schaberg, director of rhinology and endoscopic surgery at Mount Sinai Health System.

These symptoms are almost always specific to COVID-19 and very rarely seen in people with allergies. Although some people with allergies may experience fatigue, the symptom is usually much more intense in people infected with the coronavirus.

Sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or shortness of breath are also symptoms typically exclusive to COVID-19, reports the Mayo Clinic. People with allergies may have difficulty breathing, but this is usually only felt in people with breathing problems such as asthma.

Some symptoms unique to seasonal allergies include itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth, post-nasal drip, facial pressure, and sinus headaches.

Cough can be both an allergy and a symptom of COVID-19, but people with allergies tend to only experience it when they have post-nasal asthma or asthma associated with allergies, Schaberg said.

Sneezing can also be a common symptom shared by allergies and COVID-19, although it is less common in people with coronavirus.

Loss of taste and smell is another symptom that can be shared, but Schaberg said seasonal allergies are only behind it when paired with congestion. For COVID-19, the loss of taste or smell is “thought to be due to direct damage to the olfactory nerve and specialized olfactory neuroepithelium.”

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Katie Camero is a McClatchy National Real-Time Science reporter. She is a Boston University alumnus and has reported for the Wall Street Journal, Science and The Boston Globe.

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