The Difference Between COVID-19 and Fall Allergies

The main warning signs of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. Sometimes, it can manifest in cold-like symptoms like a runny nose. During the fall, when more allergens are in the air, it may be hard to know the difference between COVID-19 and your fall allergies.

Dr. Corbett on the Difference Between COVID-19 and Fall Allergies:

Dr. Corbett spoke with WHAS11 News today on how to tell the difference between fall allergies and COVID-19. Click below to watch the full interview!

The Symptoms of the Coronavirus:

According to the CDC, reported positive cases have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus cases. One prominent symptom of COVID-19 is a fever, with over 90% of patients testing positive having one. Fever is not a symptom of allergies. A severe, dry cough is another key symptom of having COVID-19 instead of allergies. While allergies can cause a cough, it will not be as prolonged and severe as it would with COVID-19. Unlike allergies that are ongoing, COVID-19 symptoms often only last for a week or two.

Mom taking son's temperature

Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • severe fatigue
  • muscle or body aches
  • headache
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

Symptoms of Fall Allergies:

Fall allergens cause suffering for a lot of people with allergies. Starting in early August, ragweed will release its pollen, causing allergy symptoms for many people through early October. Mold spores also grow during this time and become even more common as trees shed their leaves, leaving them to decay on the ground.

Seasonal allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. Allergens in the air cause your immune system to release histamines, which will cause inflammation, nasal drip, and itchy and watery eyes. One allergy symptom that is present in allergies, but not likely with the novel coronavirus is sneezing. If your symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks and have occurred in the fall months in the past, then you may have allergies.

A full list of allergy symptoms are:

  • sneezing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • watery and itchy eyes
  • itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
  • ear congestion
  • postnasal drainage
  • mild fatigue
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • coughing
Girl Sneezing

How to Mitigate Your Allergy Symptoms:

Remove Allergens From Your Home

As many are spending more time indoors, it’s important to think about your home air quality. Indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, mold, cockroach, and mice droppings can trigger symptoms in millions of allergy sufferers. There are solutions to keeping most of these allergens at bay, such as cleaning your house regularly, using “mite-proof” cases on your mattress and pillow, keeping pets out of the bedroom, and using a filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in your HVAC system.

Protect Yourself Outside

You can do more than just removing and avoiding your allergens. If you put in a little effort, you may find yourself a lot more comfortable. If you have been working outside, change clothes when you come inside and even shower to remove pollen from your body and hair. You can also avoid mold allergens by putting gloves on and cleaning up wet areas to prevent mold growth.

Seek Treatment

If you experience a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion every fall, then you should consider getting tested to see what you are allergic to. After your allergy test, you will leave your appointment knowing exactly to you are allergic to and what you can do about it. Medications can treat symptoms, and immunotherapy can provide long-term relief for those with allergies. Getting your allergies under control may make it easier to identify COVID-19 symptoms if you have them. If you are still uncertain about your current symptoms, you can schedule a telemedicine appointment with one of our board-certified physicians.