A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Allergies or COVID-19: What are the differences?

COVID-19 _vs allergies

With allergies, you can expect sneezing, runny nose and congestion. However, you may worry that symptoms could be a sign of COVID-19.

Editor’s note: This article was published on May 11, 2020. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.

As the weather warms up, pollen season also is in full force. The difference this year is the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With allergies, you can expect sneezing, runny nose and congestion. However, you may worry that symptoms could be a sign of COVID-19.

Dr. Mark Huftel, an allergist at Marshfield Clinic Health System, said the difference in symptoms comes down to a similar experience each year.

“If you have a history of each spring developing itchy, sneezy, watery eyes and sometimes itchy throat or ears, that’s likely seasonal allergies,” Huftel said.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 typically mimic those of the flu. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists symptoms like cough, fever and shortness of breath. However, some cases of COVID-19 have been asymptomatic.

Contact your provider to discuss if you should be evaluated or tested based on your symptoms, or if you have been in a high-risk area and had possible contact with someone with COVID-19.

Additionally, you can use an online screening tool to evaluate symptoms. You’ll find one on the Health System’s website – marshfieldclinic.org. Just click the symptom checker, provide some information, and then learn more about next steps.

Asthma and allergies

According to the CDC, people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.

Research is still being conducted on risks, as this is a novel virus. Huftel recommends you keep using your daily preventive medication for asthma because “a well-controlled asthma is your best defense against any respiratory illness.”

He also advises allergy suffers to start taking their medication in advance before symptoms flare.

View the chart from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to help tell the difference between COVID-19, asthma and nasal allergies.

Be safe and stay healthy

As always during this time, it’s important to take proper precautions against COVID-19. CDC states everyone should:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect.

View Shine365 for more blogs on preventive measures or visit marshfieldclinic.org/coronavirus for more information.

  1. May 14, 2020
    • May 15, 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

View our comment policy