Allergy Symptoms vs. Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Is It Coronavirus or Allergies?

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.

Signs of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Dry cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Pinkeye
  • Skin rash

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.

Is Sneezing a Common Coronavirus Symptom?

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.

Are My Red Eyes Allergies or Coronavirus?

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.

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Can You Have Allergies and Coronavirus?

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.

How to Treat Allergies During a Pandemic

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.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on January 28, 2022

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Allergic Rhinitis," "Allergy Symptoms."

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Coronavirus (COVID-19): What people with asthma need to know."

Baylor College of Medicine: "Allergies versus COVID-19."

CDC: “COVID-19,” "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)," “About Cloth Face Coverings."

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: "Allergic Rhinitis."

City of Redmond, WA: "COVID-19 (coronavirus) information."

Cleveland Clinic: "Coughing, sneezing, wheezing? You may have allergic asthma," "Allergies Got You Fuzzy-Headed? Here's Why + How to Cope."

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP): “What are the symptoms of Omicron?”

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: "The relationship between allergic rhinitis and viral infections."

European Respiratory Journal: "Childhood asthma and infection: virus-induced exacerbations as determinants and modifiers."

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: "Do asthma symptoms lag behind cold symptoms in a viral illness?"

Marshfield Clinic: "Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis."

Mayo Clinic: “COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: What are the differences?”

Novant Health: "Is it allergies of the coronavirus? 4 ways to tell."

Texas A&M University Health Science Center: "Do I have allergies or a cold?"

University of Alabama at Birmingham: "Sorting out symptoms of COVID-19, influenza, colds and allergies."

World Health Organization: "Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)."

Australian Department of Health: “COVID-19: Identifying the Symptoms.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Coronavirus Eye Safety.”

UpToDate: “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Clinical features.”

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