Covid-19 or Allergies? How to Tell the Difference


Photo by Prachatai/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Keela Delves, News Editor

As the seasons change from winter to spring, the yearly seasonal allergy symptoms are to be expected. Unlike a normal year, however, we have another concern: Covid-19. It can be rather difficult to discern the difference between typical seasonal allergy symptoms or more serious symptoms that accompany Covid-19 infection. Here are the CDC and other medical sources recommended precautions to differentiate between the two. 

Having Minor Symptoms

Although some typical allergy symptoms look like Covid-19 symptoms, there are some ways to potentially rule out Covid-19. It is uncommon for seasonal allergies to cause shortness of breath, fever, and coughing, typical of Covid-19. A loss of taste or smell and gastrointestinal issues also may accompany Covid-19 infection. If these main symptoms are not present, it is probably more likely to be allergies. 

Sneezing and eye itchiness is not currently a symptom of Covid-19, so if these symptoms are present it is likely just allergies

Taking Allergy Medicine

Taking allergy medications is a good way to determine if it is indeed allergies or perhaps something more. Usually, after taking over-the-counter medications, allergy symptoms will subside and be relieved. If these symptoms do not subside, however, it may be something more serious. It is recommended that a Covid-19 test then be administered or a preventative quarantine.  

This graphic indicates which symptoms are and are not associated with Covid-19. Because it can be tricky to tell the difference, the CDC and many others have made graphics to help. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Bottom Line

When in doubt, please check with your doctor.  Even the best service journalism cannot replace the advice and recommendations of a qualified medical professional.