Do you Have Seasonal Allergies or COVID-19?

A blue sky with sunshine, vitamin d from the sun

For many people, Spring means allergy season! During this time of year, more plants are pollinating and causing symptoms in individuals who suffer from seasonal allergies. On their own, these allergies are not usually a major health concern. Unfortunately, some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to those of seasonal allergies, so read on to discover how to look out for key indicators of each.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • stuffy or runny nose
  • itchy eyes
  • itchy skin, including around your mouth and inner ears
  • sneezing

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • fatigue

It is important to note that the CDC recommends immediate medical attention for these COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pressure or pain in chest
  • Confusion or the inability to rise
  • Bluish lips or face

If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms, please seek medical assistance.

Confusing similarities

Some symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are remarkably similar, which is why it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing them. Some symptoms that can show up with either ailment include:

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue (in the case of allergies, this is usually due to lack of sleep)
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat

Of course, different symptoms can occur for different people, making the navigation of indicators even more confusing. So:

Pay attention to the key differences

Since seasonal allergies and COVID-19 share some similar symptoms, it’s important to look at the key difference indicators. Though these can’t be used to definitively tell you if you have allergies or COVID-19, each is a strong indicator of one and not the other. Here are some key points to pay attention to:

Allergies tend to be chronic

Unlike the sudden onset of an illness, seasonal allergies tend to be chronic. Certain symptoms can persist over weeks and even months. Another characteristic of seasonal allergies is that they can come and go; over long stretches of time, you may have lessening or worsening symptoms, but they still persist. If you are someone who has suffered from seasonal allergies in the past, there is an even higher likelihood they could be the culprit of your symptoms.

Allergies do not cause a fever

If you’re not sure whether your symptoms are related to allergies or COVID-19, take your temperature. Despite other crossover symptoms, allergies do not cause a fever. If you are showing some symptoms related to seasonal allergies but also have a fever, it could be that you have a different ailment such as the flu, a cold, or COVID-19.

Going outside can make allergy symptoms worse

Because seasonal allergies are a reaction to pollens in the air, going outside or sitting on grass can often make symptoms worse. Exposure to other allergens such as to dust or animals can also exasperate symptoms. If you notice you’re feeling worse when exposed to any of these allergy triggers, that could indicate that your symptoms are being caused by allergies rather than by COVID-19.

Muscle aches are associated with COVID-19

Muscle aches are not a symptom of allergies. If you are experiencing muscle aches along with your other symptoms, especially if paired with a fever, that is a strong indication that you should be cautious. Although these could be symptoms of the flu or a cold, speak to your doctor. They may recommend a COVID-19 test. 

Itchiness is a symptom of allergies

Itchy eyes, skin, inner ears, and mouth are symptoms of seasonal allergies. They are not symptoms of COVID-19. If your symptoms include this type of itchiness, it may be more likely that your symptoms are caused by seasonal allergies. 

Allergies respond well to medication

If you’ve had allergies before, you can take over-the-counter allergy medications to manage symptoms. If your symptoms don’t improve from taking allergy medications, it could be that you are suffering from a different ailment.

Sneezing is not a common symptom of COVID-19

Though COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, sneezing is not one of its common symptoms. On the flip side, it is a primary symptom of seasonal allergies. If you feel sick and are also sneezing, it could be an indication that you have seasonal allergies or a different ailment such as the flu or a cold.

Loss of taste and smell is a symptom of COVID-19

Sometimes it can seem like you’re losing your sense of smell and taste when you are heavily congested from seasonal allergies. It’s important to note that this is different than one noted symptom from COVID-19: a loss of taste and smell even when not congested. If you experience a loss of taste or smell without congestion, self-isolate and immediately contact your doctor or healthcare professional. They could recommend a test for COVID-19.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not associated with allergies

Although less common symptoms of COVID-19, all of these symptoms have nothing to do with allergies. If your symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, this is a very good indication that you are suffering from something other than allergies. 

The bottom line

It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re feeling unwell for any reason, self-isolate at home and speak to your doctor or healthcare professional. Because so many symptoms are shared between COVID-19 and other ailments including seasonal allergies, if you’re concerned about your symptoms it’s best to speak to a professional to decide on your best course of action. Your doctor will be able to suggest the next steps for you, which could be trying medication to manage seasonal allergies, or they may suggest getting tested for COVID-19.

Your Health Lab offers the gold standard of high throughput Covid-19 PCR testing. This test can be taken to quickly learn whether or not you test positive for the virus—within 24-48 hours from the time your sample is at our lab. Check out our offerings and learn all about our COVID-19 testing here.


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