How Are COVID-19 Symptoms Different from Allergies? [Video]

  • The symptoms of seasonal allergies can overlap with that of Covid-19.
  • It is important to understand the different symptoms of allergies and Covid-19 to distinguish one condition from the other.
  • One significant difference is that allergies don’t usually cause fever.


It is allergy season once again and as the temperature becomes warmer, pollens are released earlier than usual. Dr. Lakiea Wright of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who specializes in allergies, immunology, and rheumatology explains that because of the warmer temperatures, there’s a surge in pollen and symptoms can come on suddenly. While it is normal to experience sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes because of pollen, many people still feel anxious that these may be possible early signs of Covid-19 infection. Some symptoms of allergies resemble that of Covid-19 that is why many people worry and become anxious once they experience Covid-19-like symptoms.

Although Covid-19 vaccines are already available, many people are still waiting to be vaccinated, and so symptoms of coughing, sneezing, and loss of taste and smell can still make people’s anxiety levels soar up.

 Here are what Dr. Wright wants you to know to distinguish seasonal allergies from Covid-19.

Distinctive Symptoms

  • Fever

With Covid-19, fever is its most evident symptom, along with diarrhea, nausea, and shortness of breath. For seasonal allergies, fever is not typically experienced.

Although not all who get infected with Covid-19 run a fever, most people experience it. A study in the June 2020 PLos One observed that about 78% of all cases developed a fever, making it one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, along with dry cough, headache, loss of smell and taste, and tiredness.

  • Runny Nose

A runny nose is considered an uncommon symptom of Covid-19, but some people with Covid-19 also showed symptoms of a runny nose.  

On the other hand, a runny nose is a typical sign of seasonal allergies, combined with itchy eyes, nose and throat, and watery eyes.

  • Cough

Cough can also be experienced by people with allergies, but unlike Covid-19 which shows a non-mucus or dry cough, seasonal allergy-related cough is a result of post-nasal drip where nasal congestion sends mucus to the back of the throat.

Relief from Medications

You can also determine if it is a regular seasonal allergy if taking allergy medications relieved the symptoms.

Dr. Wright shares that symptoms of an allergy will prompt you to touch your eyes, nose, and face often, so she recommends washing your hands often, sneezing unto a tissue or your sleeves only, and using a tissue only once to minimize your risk of transferring virus, including those that cause Covid-19.

Related Conditions

You may also feel unwell because of a cold. While coronavirus immediately comes to mind when one gets sick, it’s not always the reason behind it. This pandemic is one stressful situation and stress highly affects the immune response of people. Omid Mehdizadeh, an otolaryngologist, and laryngologist at the Pacific Eye, Ear, and Skull Base Center at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Los Angeles shares that people who haven’t had a cold for years can suddenly get colds because of lower immunity due to stress.

Doctor’s Diagnosis

To lessen your concern or be assured of your specific condition, you can also ask your doctor’s advice and diagnosis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends informing your healthcare provider and facility first before visiting them to assess your condition if visiting a hospital is necessary. You might be advised to visit an urgent care clinic, instead of an emergency clinic, or rather stay at home to rest while drinking lots of fluids.

Health care facilities also now offer telemedicine appointments for those who are still reluctant for an in-clinic appointment. Some doctors, like Dr. Jeffrey Factor of the Connecticut Asthma and Allergy Center in West Hartford, have been using telehealth where he can still see his patients and prescribe medications to them.


Source: Everyday Health

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