If you live in the Cincinnati area, where ragweed pollen, mold and dust commonly circulate, you might find yourself sneezing and blowing your nose a lot — and wondering if it's "just allergies." Because some seasonal fall allergy symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms, it can help to learn how to tell the difference between the two so you can quickly treat your condition and feel better sooner.
How to tell if it's seasonal allergies
First, check your symptoms. Allergy symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy throat or ears
Next, ask yourself: Do I seem to get these same symptoms at the same time every year? If the answer is yes, you could have seasonal fall allergies. To treat your symptoms, try an over-the-counter allergy medicine or these other tips for relieving sinus pressure and pain. If you don't feel better after a few days of self-treatment, make an appointment with your primary care provider — you might need a prescription medicine or an allergy shot, or you might not be suffering from allergies afterall.
Symptoms that could mean COVID-19
Like seasonal allergies, COVID-19 symptoms can also include a runny or stuffy nose, a cough, an irritated throat, fatigue, or a headache.
However, the following symptoms that can occur with COVID-19 do not typically occur with seasonal allergies:
- Muscle or body aches
- Painful sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
Similar symptoms have some differences
While a cough can be a symptom of both seasonal allergies and COVID-19, it generally only happens with allergies if you have significant nasal drainage that irritates your throat.
Fatigue can happen with both conditions too, but it's usually more extreme with COVID-19. Fatigue due to allergies is often caused by a lack of sleep.
Shortness of breath can be a warning sign of a serious case of COVID-19. It can also occur with allergies, but typically only if you have asthma that's triggered by allergies.
When to call your doctor
If you have a fever or any of the other COVID-19 symptoms that don't occur with seasonal allergies, stay home to recover and call your doctor for advice. You might need to receive a COVID-19 test to return to work or school.
Seek emergency medical care if you have any of the following severe symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds
Have more questions about allergies, COVID-19, the flu or other health concerns? A primary care provider can help! Schedule an appointment online with a one near you today.