If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
If you find yourself feeling under the weather this spring, you may be asking yourself, “Do I have COVID-19 or allergies?”
While both can make you feel miserable, the good news that it’s usually easy to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergies.
How COVID-19 and allergies are different.
Allergies develop as a result of your immune system responding to an external trigger, such as food, dust, pollen, or something else. Anyone can develop allergies at any point in their life, but they’re not contagious.
In contrast, COVID-19 is a contagious virus that spreads through respiratory droplets passed through the air. COVID-19 can also be transmitted when someone touches a surface or object touched by an infected person.
COVID-19 often causes a fever, while allergies don’t.
If you have seasonal allergies, you shouldn’t experience a fever. And, in general, allergy symptoms are mild compared to COVID-19 symptoms, which may be similar to cold and flu symptoms. Common COVID-19 symptoms may include:
- Diarrhea or nausea
- Loss of taste or smell
COVID-19 symptoms can last between two to fourteen days, which is why it’s important to follow safety precautions to minimize the risk of spreading it. However, it’s important to know that not everyone experiences these symptoms when they’re sick with the virus. In fact, some people who test positive for COVID-19 don’t experience any symptoms at all.
Do you have a runny nose or a fever? Dr. Maragh shares how to tell if you have #COVID19 or seasonal #Allergies and when to seek care: https://bit.ly/3t6Wlmv.
While people with recurrent or seasonal allergies may occasionally experience a slight cough or mild fatigue, allergies commonly cause less severe symptoms than COVID-19, such as:
- Runny nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Post-nasal drip
Allergy symptoms can last much longer than COVID-19 if left untreated. Many people with seasonal allergies experience symptoms for weeks or months.
How and when to seek treatment for COVID-19 or allergies.
Seeking care for COVID-19.
If you think you have signs of COVID-19 or you know you’ve been exposed to the virus by someone else, call your doctor right away so they can help you take the appropriate next steps for care. In many cases, you may be able to recover safely at home. Talking to your doctor will help you understand what you need to do to ensure you don’t spread the virus to others by taking additional safety precautions, such as quarantining.
It’s also important to continue properly wearing a facemask whether or not you have allergies or asthma. Mask-wearing is proven to be safe for both conditions, and it’s critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 among our communities.
Seeking care for allergies.
Many people with seasonal allergies already take preventative measures to minimize their symptoms. However, if you develop new or worsening allergy symptoms, it’s important to talk to your primary care doctor so they can help you manage your symptoms through allergy medications such as antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids.
Seasonal allergies shouldn’t cause shortness of breath or a fever, but if you experience one of those symptoms call your doctor right away. This is especially true if you have a history of asthma, which is a common condition that many people with allergies also have.
Am I at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19 if I have allergies?
Having seasonal allergies does not increase your chances of getting COVID-19 or experiencing complications caused by COVID-19. However, many people with allergies also manage related conditions, such as asthma. Because asthma can affect how you breathe, having asthma may increase your risk of complications from COVID-19. That’s why if you have asthma, it’s especially important to contact your primary care provider if you become infected with COVID-19. And if you ever have trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.
What if I get COVID-19 while I’m suffering from allergies?
If you become infected with COVID-19 while you have allergies, you will most likely still manage your seasonal allergy symptoms in the same way you usually do. Your primary care provider can help you manage your COVID-19 symptoms and take preventative measures to ensure you don’t spread the virus.
Don’t delay care when you need it.
Whether you experience seasonal allergies or have signs of COVID-19, your primary care provider can help determine whether or not you need to seek testing, in-person care, or treatment. And, you can also talk to a board-certified provider 24/7 using on-demand video visits through MedStar eVisit. If you have questions or are concerned about your health, don’t hesitate to seek medical care.