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COVID or Allergies? How to differentiate the two

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-27 13:15:17-04

As we head into spring, that means allergy symptoms will start kicking in for many, but it's important to be able to differentiate between COVID-19 and allergies.

In April, allergy season hits its peak and for those experiencing symptoms, they may worry they have contracted COVID-19.

But health officials say there are a few things that can help separate the two.

"Both have many things in common, both COVID-19 and typically environmental allergies can have a stuffy, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat,” said French Hospital Medical Center Chief Medical Officer James Malone.

Since both have shared symptoms, many can start to worry, but according to Malone, there are some that can set COVID apart.

“Probably the biggest differences between the two would be fever, a temperature of over 100 degrees. Usually, with allergies, people won't have a fever,” he said.

Other symptoms unique to COVID-19 and not allergies include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

"More of what I am seeing is that it's the patient's employers that are worried. You know, they come in with a cough or runny nose and it's just tricky because again, yes, you don't want to expose any other employees to a potential COVID case, but it is also allergy season,” said Tenet Health nurse practitioner Jessica Peckham.

Peckham says if you know you are prone to allergies, there's a big chance it might be just that.

“So if you think you have allergies and you take your antihistamine and all your symptoms go away, then it's probably allergies, but if you take that antihistamine and they don't go away, then that is an absolute indication that it is something more than just allergies,” she said.

Health officials advise those who may have concerns should consult their doctor if they are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms.