Allergy Symptoms vs. Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Is It Coronavirus or Allergies?

The main warning signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, are fever, fatigue, 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.

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 include:

If you have any of these, especially a fever, call your doctor. 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 aren’t sure or if you haven’t been diagnosed with asthma, call your doctor or 911 right away.

Is Sneezing a Common Coronavirus Symptom?

The new coronavirus doesn’t cause sneezing. But 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. Call your doctor if you have red eyes with other COVID-19 symptoms.

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. 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 cloth face mask when you go out.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on June 01, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

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

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Coronavirus Eye Safety.”

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: "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."

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."

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)."

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