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Published on July 29, 2020

Allergies or COVID-19?

How do I know if I have allergies or COVID-19?

When you wake up feeling a little under the weather, it can be easy to start imagining the worst. Even more so with a pandemic raging around the country. Is the tickle in your throat COVID-19? Maybe just seasonal allergies? Rather than let your mind race, use the tips below to help differentiate the two illnesses.

Check your temperature. Allergies generally don't cause a fever, whereas COVID-19 does in most people. That's why one of the quickest ways to rule out COVID-19 is by taking your temperature. If it's high, especially more than 100 degrees, you should contact a healthcare professional for further direction.

Note the rest of your symptoms. Both COVID-19 and allergies have unique characteristics that can help pinpoint the nature of what's making you ill.

Common COVID-19 symptoms, most of which start gradually and get worse:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches or pain
  • New loss of smell or taste

Common allergy symptoms, most of which are aggravated when you're outside:

  • Itchy eyes and/or nose
  • Sneezing
  • Clear, runny nose
  • Sore throat (if you have a lot of congestion in your sinuses and drainage in the back of your throat)

Note: The list of symptoms caused by COVID-19 continues to grow as we learn more about the disease, and some of them can overlap with allergy symptoms. For example, patients with COVID-19 occasionally experience congestion or a runny nose. However, in these cases, they often also have one or more of the most common COVID-19 symptoms listed above (e.g., congestion and a fever or a runny nose and a fever).

Compare to previous years. Think back to earlier summers. Do you remember dealing with similar symptoms at this time last year? If so, you may suffer from seasonal allergies. While uncomfortable, the good news is they usually can be relieved with help from over-the-counter medications and won't last for long.

Still not able to say whether you're suffering from allergies or something more serious? You can always get a professional opinion by:

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