Should You Worry? Allergies or Covid 19?

The new Coronavirus has altered our world. Covid 19, the illness caused by the new Coronavirus, has doctors and scientists scrambling to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. It is not surprising that in all this uncertainty, many people start to worry when they begin to suffer from cold-like symptoms. The new Coronavirus has hit at the same time that seasonal allergens are emerging. People are sometimes confused if their cold-like symptoms point to allergies or Covid 19. While there is still much to learn about Covid 19, there are ways to help you determine if you are suffering from allergies or possibly Covid 19.

Try to think back to prior years. Do you seem to suffer from the same runny nose and sneezing every spring? If there is a seasonal pattern to your symptoms you can suspect you have an allergy. Allergies are common in the spring. As grass and trees come out of dormancy, their pollen is released into the air. Mold that has grown on decaying vegetation is also stirred up by the wind. Both pollen and mold are common spring allergens. Consider tracking pollen counts in your area. You can find them along with your weather forecast online. If you find that your miserable symptoms are occurring on the same day the pollen count is high, you likely have allergies.

Allergies cause symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, post-nasal drip, sinus congestion and mild fatigue. A hallmark symptom of allergies is itching of the eyes, nose or ears. The itching can cause serious misery in allergy sufferers. Sometimes allergy sufferers may develop a slight cough due to post-nasal drip. If you are asthmatic, allergens can trigger your asthma.

If you suspect your symptoms may be allergy related, taking some steps to reduce your allergen exposure will help. Try to stay indoors as much as possible to limit your exposure to outdoor allergens. We all love to open our windows after a long winter, but keep your windows shut so you don’t invite pollen and mold into your house. If you have been outdoors, change clothes and shower once you come inside to get rid of any pollen adhering you your hair or clothing. Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can offer some relief from allergy symptoms. Antihistamines do not help Covid 19 symptoms.

While Covid 19 and allergies both have respiratory symptoms, the Covid 19 illness does have symptoms that are different from allergies. Fever and shortness of breath are two symptoms that are common in Covid 19. Fever can be high, often between 102-104 degrees. It may feel like you can’t take a deep breath. In Covid 19, movement and activity are difficult due to severe fatigue, significant muscle pain and shortness of breath. The mild fatigue felt by allergy sufferers is very different from the severe fatigue of Covid 19. It is the difference between feeling a little run-down and being unsure if you can physically get out of bed or climb a flight of stairs.

Covid also has a deep cough as a common symptom. This cough can be painful and can be accompanied by a sore throat. Headache is common with Covid 19. Some patients have experienced the loss of taste and smell. Sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms accompany Covid 19. The onset of Covid 19 is also usually fairly abrupt. You may be feeling fine in the morning and terrible in the afternoon. Allergies usually build in severity as pollen counts increase. With allergies, some days will be better, and some will be worse.

You may feel you are overreacting if you are concerned that you might have Covid 19. But it is important to track your symptoms. Covid 19 is extremely contagious. If you have symptoms like fever, shortness of breath and cough, take steps to isolate yourself to prevent spreading potential infection to others in your household and contact your doctor.

Of course, if you have any lingering concerns or confusion regarding your symptoms, you should contact your doctor. Most clinics will offer virtual appointments or screening over the phone. Your local health department is also a good resource if you are unsure about your symptoms. It is important to not just show up at a clinic or urgent care to get a Covid 19 test. A call ahead of time will help your clinic prepare or they can give you further directions on how to obtain a Covid 19 test.

It is normal to have a heightened amount of concern over potential illness during this time. Keep a thermometer on hand to monitor yourself for fever. Track your symptoms daily to help you and your doctor understand the progress of your potential illness. Be sure to stay well hydrated for any cold-like illness. Knowing the difference between seasonal allergy symptoms and Covid 19 can help you navigate your symptoms.