Is it Allergies or Coronavirus? Cincinnati's Christ Hospital Explains How to Tell the Difference.

The Greater Cincinnati area is often ranked as one of the worst places in the country to live for allergy sufferers. And many may be wondering — or panicking — whether their symptoms could be COVID-19.

click to enlarge Is it Allergies or Coronavirus? Cincinnati's Christ Hospital Explains How to Tell the Difference.
Photo: Screengrab American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

The Greater Cincinnati area is often ranked as one of the worst places in the country to live for allergy sufferers. And since spring has sprung and tree pollen is basically everywhere — in the middle of a viral pandemic — many may be wondering (or constantly panicking) whether their congestion is due to seasonal allergies or COVID-19. 

Allergist Jonathan Bayuk, a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, has made a video trying to help people distinguish their symptoms. Locally, The Christ Hospital also made a blog about it

The main takeaway: "Allergies do not cause fever. Allergies do cause itchy eyes and nose, post-nasal drip, cough and sneeze," says Bayuk. 

According to the ACAAI, other common seasonal allergy symptoms can include headache and fatigue — some of which overlap with symptoms of a viral infection like COVID-19. 

Here are the most common symptoms of COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization:

  • Fever (higher than 100 degrees)
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • The WHO also says people can have aches, pains, a runny nose, diarrhea and general flu-like symptoms

The symptoms, which start between 2 and 14 days after exposure, are generally mild and gradual. Eighty percent of people recover from the disease without intervention — some may not even know they have it.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says if you develop shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, new confusion or inability to arouse or bluish lips or face, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

So, still kind of similar?

Here's are what the ACAAI and Christ Hospital break down as the defining differences:

  • You don't have a fever with allergies and you typically do with COVID-19.
  • Flu-like symptoms — body aches, fatigue — are generally not present with allergies but they can be with COVID-19. Common sense note: If you aren't sleeping well because of allergies, you will be tired.
  • A runny nose and nasal congestion generally occur with allergies or a cold and are less common in COVID-19.
  • A dry cough is less common with allergies, unless you have a bunch of post-nasal drip. (You'll know if you have post-nasal drip: it tastes bad and you have to clear your throat all the time.) It is more common in COVID-19. 

Also, if you've had seasonal allergies before, think back to how you felt this time last year before freaking yourself out. And then take your temperature.

If you do have a fever and other symptoms of COVID-19, don't panic. Call your doctor or other health care provider.

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