HOUSTON – Because the COVID-19 outbreak overlaps with allergy season, it can be difficult to determine if you are getting sick or just experiencing seasonal allergies.
Dr. Sanjiv Sur, an allergist at Baylor College of Medicine, said one of the key differences between the two is that allergies tend to present the same symptoms every year.
“If there is a significant change in your allergy symptoms from what you have had in the past, then you should consider being evaluated by a physician,” Sur said.
Since allergies can sometimes make you feel as though you are catching an illness, Sur explains the differences between the symptoms:
- Allergies mainly cause itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, congestion and sneezing.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include a dry cough, fever and difficulty breathing.
Sur emphasized that a major difference between allergies and coronavirus is the presence of fever. A fever is a main symptom of coronavirus but not a feature in seasonal allergies.
Asthma and COPD
Shortness of breath is a symptom of both allergies and COVID-19 that can overlap, especially if you have asthma. Sur said allergies can trigger asthma flares and sometimes COPD flares if the COPD is associated with asthma.
If you are having difficulty breathing and are not experiencing allergy symptoms, Sur recommends contacting your primary care provider for an evaluation.
Allergies are mainly caused by the high tree and grass pollen count that occurs during springtime. If you are experiencing seasonal allergies, begin treating symptoms by using over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays or non-drowsy oral antihistamines like cetirizine or fexofenadine.
If allergy symptoms are not relieved by the next day or two, Sur recommends informing your primary care provider over the phone or electronically.
If there is a chance you have been exposed to COVID-19 or begin experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath, contact your healthcare provider over the phone or electronically for suggestions on testing.