Mayo Clinic Questions & Answers: Flu, COVID-19 & Seasonal Allergies | Way of life
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My 14 year old daughter has seasonal allergies that usually increase in the fall, as well as a love of the outdoors, so it’s not uncommon for her to be congested and cough. Last year we homeschooled her, but now she’s back to school in person. As we move from fall to winter, how can I tell the difference between his allergies, a cold, the flu, and COVID-19?
ANSWER: Everyone experiences symptoms of congestion and cough from time to time. It is a common sign for many children, adolescents and adults, especially those with seasonal allergies. However, since these are also symptoms of respiratory illness, it is important to be aware of the potential for spreading germs to others, especially since COVID-19, the common cold, seasonal allergies and the flu share common concerns. many similar symptoms.
– Seasonal allergies and COVID-19
Unlike COVID-19, seasonal allergies are not caused by a virus. Seasonal allergies are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens, such as seasonal pollens from trees or grasses.
While COVID-19 and seasonal allergies cause many of the same signs and symptoms, there are a few differences. For example, a fever will almost never accompany seasonal allergies, but it is a common sign of COVID-19. Additionally, muscle aches and fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are unlikely to be present with allergies; while they are common signs of a viral infection.
Additionally, although COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, seasonal allergies usually do not cause these symptoms unless you have a respiratory illness such as asthma which can be triggered by exposure to pollen.
Treatment for seasonal allergies may include over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays and decongestants, and avoiding exposure to allergens if possible. Seasonal allergies can last for several weeks.
– COVID-19 and the common cold
Viruses cause COVID-19 and the common cold. COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, while the common cold is most commonly caused by rhinoviruses. These viruses spread in a similar way and cause many of the same signs and symptoms. However, there are a few differences. Specifically, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are usually never present with the common cold.
While symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear two to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19, symptoms of a common cold typically appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus.
There is no cure for the common cold. Treatment may include pain relievers and over-the-counter cold remedies, such as decongestants. Unlike COVID-19, a cold is generally harmless. Most people recover from a cold in three to ten days, although some colds can last up to two or three weeks.
– Influenza and COVID-19
Influenza and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses that spread similarly with similar symptoms. The diseases can also cause no symptoms, or mild or severe symptoms. Due to the similarities, it can be difficult to diagnose your condition based on symptoms alone. COVID-19 can cause more serious illness in some people than the flu, and the recent delta variant has been shown to affect children more severely. But the flu can be just as deadly.
Symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear two to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure to the flu. You can also have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.
Tests may be done to see if you have COVID-19 or the flu. If your daughter has symptoms that are different or more severe than her allergies, including fatigue, muscle pain, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should consider testing. This will confirm if she has COVID-19, the flu, or another virus. Rapid tests can also enable rapid antiviral treatment, which is available for influenza and COVID-19.
– Reduce the risks
The best way to prevent seasonal allergies is to avoid your known triggers. If you are allergic to pollen, stay indoors with windows and doors closed when pollen is high.
Wearing a cloth mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 could also provide some protection against seasonal allergies. Masks can prevent you from inhaling larger pollen particles. However, smaller pollen particles will still be able to pass through a mask. It is also important to wash your mask after each use as a mask may contain pollen particles.
You can further reduce your risk of infection with the viruses that cause COVID-19, the common cold, and the flu by following these precautions:
â¢ Get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine.
â¢ Avoid close contact with anyone known to be sick.
â¢ Wear a mask in public places.
â¢ Avoid large crowds.
â¢ Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
â¢ Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
â¢ Be diligent in cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Also, if your daughter starts showing symptoms, keep her home for a few days to watch for her symptoms. Talk to her pediatrician or healthcare professional if she has any signs or symptoms that last more than a few days or get worse. – Compiled by Mayo Clinic staff
The information in this post was accurate at the time of posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, as well as guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.
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