Allergy Symptoms vs. Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on January 06, 2023
3 min read

Some of the main symptoms of COVID-19 include feverfatigue, and a dry cough. Sometimes, it also causes cold-like symptoms like a runny nose. During allergy season, it may be hard to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergies.

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. The approved vaccines not only help prevent you from getting COVID-19, they also prevent you from getting seriously ill or dying if you do still get the virus. Check the CDC website to make sure that you are up to date on your vaccine and booster shots.

Allergy symptoms happen partly because of inflammation. That’s caused by your body overreacting to things like pollen or mold.

Common signs of allergies include:

People sometimes call allergies "hay fever," but they don’t give you a fever.

Possible signs of COVID-19 can include:

If you have any of these, call your doctor. Get emergency help right away if you have trouble breathing. If you get allergies every year, watch for symptoms that are different from what you’ve had before.

Severe allergies can make you can feel tightness in your chest and shortness of breath, especially if you have asthma, too. But these can also be serious symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any of these, call 911 right away.

As the coronavirus variants evolved, so have the symptoms. Now, sneezing is a more common symptom of COVID-19. And sneezing can spread COVID-19 as well as other viruses like flu and cold. That’s why if you do sneeze, it’s important to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue to keep the virus from spreading. Wash your hands right away.

Only about 1% to 3% of people with COVID-19 will have pinkeye. If you notice that your eyes are red, the odds are that it’s not because of the coronavirus. Check with your doctor to find out the cause.

You can have allergies and a viral infection at the same time. If you have classic allergy signs like itchy eyes and a runny nose along with COVID-19 symptoms like fatigue and a fever, call your doctor.

In the midst of a virus outbreak, it can be hard to get to a clinic for allergy treatment. The first thing to do is to stay away from whatever makes your symptoms flare up.

You can also try over-the-counter allergy medicines. Check with your supermarket or drugstore to see if they deliver and have these medications in stock. Or order them online.

If you have trouble finding them, or if you need something stronger like corticosteroids, call your doctor. They may be able to prescribe something over the phone or have a telehealth visit with you. Some pharmacies deliver medications.

When social distancing or stay-at-home rules are in effect, always follow the COVID-19 safety steps recommended by public health officials:

  • Stay away from others.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Visit public places like stores only when you have to, especially if you’re in an area with lots of cases.
  • Wear a face mask when you go out.