Differences between COVID-19 and Allergies

by Eugene Ng    

Differences between COVID-19 and Allergies

Throughout springtime, pollen starts to bloom, and will cause typical allergic reactions. Due to the recent pandemic of the COVID-19, we have prepared a handy guide to differentiate between the two.

Allergies typically cause nasal symptoms such as a runny nose and sinus congestion, but do not usually result in a fever- which is typically found with coronavirus or the flu. While some symptoms of the coronavirus may overlap with allergies, there are several differences to differentiate between whether you're afflicted with seasonal allergies, or something perhaps worse. 


Check for a fever


According to Michael Benninger, MD, a fever is the main symptom to help you determine what illness you might have. A fever could mean the flu, or any number of other things, including the coronavirus. 

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that examined cases in China in February 2020 shed more light on these symptoms. The report found that around 88% of COVID-19 patients had a fever, and 68% had a dry cough. Additional symptoms of the coronavirus have included shortness or breath and difficulty breathing, sore throat, diarrhoea, fatigue, and body aches. 

But it’s rare to find a fever or diarrhea associated with a cold or seasonal allergies, Dr. Benninger notes. And while some coronavirus patients have been asymptomatic, differentiating between what your body is dealing with is also a matter of looking at all of the symptoms as a whole.


Keep your asthma in check


While difficulty breathing and shortness of breath are symptoms that have been associated with coronavirus, they may also be signs of seasonal asthma that can flare up with the allergy season. If a fever is not present when you are facing these symptoms, it could most likely be asthma. 

People with asthma need to stay on top of their treatment, says Dr. Benninger, especially since people with respiratory issues are at a higher risk of potentially severe illness from coronavirus. Whether it’s inhalers or nasal sprays, it’s important to be up to date on their medication and proper usage. 

“If you can prevent the symptoms from worsening, then you’re much more likely to have less difficulty when you get to the time of the season when allergies tend to get out of control,” he says.

The following lists provide you the symptoms of both allergies and the coronavirus, but if you suspect that some seems to have gone awry, do consult your physician immediately for proper diagnosis. 


Symptoms Of The Coronavirus Are:

According to the CDC, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Coronavirus is spread through coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact. We recommend following the CDC guidelines and those of your local health department to prevent the spread of the virus. 


Symptoms Of Allergies Are:

Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe and occur seasonally. The most common include:

  • Sneezing
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
  • Ear congestion
  • Post-nasal drainage
  • Less Common Symptoms Include:
  • Headaches
  • A shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

Allergies are caused by a response in the immune system and are not contagious. Medications can treat your symptoms, and immunotherapy can help those with allergies find relief. 


Brace Yourselves

It should also be noted that due to the recent events involving COVID-19, there have been fever vehicles on the road due to the restrictions that have been implemented due to the pandemic. Essentially, there is less pollution in the air. 

Good Morning Britain’s Dr. Hilary confirmed this and said that a "pollen bomb" may be caused due to more pollen falling back down to us- an event which is usually blocked, due to pollution.

While speaking on the show, he proceeded to say: "When you have less particulate matter in the atmosphere and it brings it down to earth you have less circulating antigens getting into your eyes and your nose."

The easiest way to combat pollen issues without having to take any medication (i.e. antihistamines or pseudoephedrines such as Zyrtec, Clarinase, etc.) would be to consider purchasing an Air Purifier. As long as your Air Purifier has a HEPA filter, you should notice a drastic change with your indoor air quality after a few days- just take a look at your Air Purifier's filter!

Air purifiers can target many allergic triggers. While there’s no official recommendation for the use of air purifiers for allergies, many medical experts and research studies point to their effectiveness.

 

*Do bear in mind that this article is not intended to provide comprehensive medical advice. If you have any concerns about your health, always seek your doctor for further medical advice. 



References:


- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, “Hay fever or COVID? GP’s on alert as spring bears allergies

- World Health Organization, “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

- Center for Disease Control, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

-  University of Utah, “Is it COVID-19? Or is it just my allergies?

- Healthline, "Which Air Purifiers Work Best for Allergies?"

- Family Allergy and Asthma, “What Causes Allergies?

-The Sun UK, “Hay fever is worse this year as coronavirus lockdown triggers pollen ‘bomb’, says Dr Hilary

- Cleveland Clinic, “Dr. Michael Benninger

Eugene Ng

With a background in sociology, Eugene developed an interest in how various factors influence society and development. His informative blog posts focus on drink driving, air quality, car safety and new technologies.


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