How to Know if Your Symptoms Are Coronavirus or Allergies

How to Know if Your Symptoms Are Coronavirus or Allergies

Allergy sufferers beware: We are only just beginning to enter tree pollen season, with the peak still more than a month away. That means if you’re susceptible to seasonal allergies, the worst is yet to come.

You can expect a lot more sneezing, more bouts with itchy, watery eyes -and more scowls if you dare to show these symptoms in public as the world copes with the coronavirus pandemic. Mark Weinstein, director of allergy and immunology for Riverside Medical Group in northern New Jersey, said tree pollen season is just starting to “ramp up” and pollen counts will continue to soar in April and May.

So, how do you tell if you’re suffering from seasonal allergies or coronavirus?

“The hallmark of allergy is itchiness,” Weinstein said. “The itchy nose, itchy eyes, itchy ears, itchy throat. Those are all telltale signs.”

There also are distinct differences between coronavirus and allergies- first and foremost being fever, according to Weinstein. “The vast majority of patients with coronavirus will experience fever,” he said. “Allergy sufferers will almost never have a fever because of their allergies.”

Maria Lania-Howarth, head of allergy and immunology at Cooper University Health Care, added that people who have coronavirus also likely will feel “very unwell.”

“You might see congestion and running nose in both,” she said. “But they’re not going to feel sick and achy and the extreme fatigue that they might feel with COVID-19.”

Weinstein also said coronavirus patients can have gastrointestinal symptoms -nausea, vomiting, diarrhea -which are rarely seen with seasonal allergies.

And finally, one crucial piece of advice from allergists: Do not stop taking your allergy medication, including steroidal nasal sprays, thinking it will weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to coronavirus.

The message from allergists is the same as doctors everywhere: Wash your hands, stay home and practice social distancing.