Do I have fall allergies or COVID?

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DENVER (KDVR/WATE/NEWS10) – From coughing to sneezing, and even that scratchy throat, how can you tell the difference between your allergies and COVID?

“Most people who have allergies know what their allergies feel like and when they tend to peak,” said Dr. Flavia Hoyte, an allergist with National Jewish Health,

The answer might not be as simple as it seems per the CDC definitions of symptomatic reportable illness so that you can also be sick with COVID-19 and not have a fever.

A fever does not accompany allergies, so if you have one it could be the first sign that you may want to get tested for COVID-19.

Allergies generally will not affect the lungs but can trigger asthma in people with allergic asthma. Allergies also typically do not cause a fever or extreme fatigue Dr. Hoyte said, some allergy symptoms, like nasal congestion or runny nose, also can be symptoms of viral infections such as a cold or COVID-19. 

‘Almost identical’ symptoms

As we enter the fall, parents bracing themselves for the usual cold and flu threats now have to be on the lookout for COVID-19 and spiking RSV cases in parts of the country.

“It’s really challenging for parents to tell the difference between seasonal allergies, common colds, and potentially the COVID virus and how it’s affecting kids,” East Tennessee Children’s Hospitals Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joe Childs, told WATE. “Symptoms between RSV and other viruses, even COVID, are almost identical.

Common Symptoms of allergies

  • Itchy, watery and/or red eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Itching of the skin

Some allergy symptoms, like nasal congestion or runny nose, also can be symptoms of viral infections such as a cold or COVID-19.

Allergies generally will not affect the lungs but can trigger asthma in people with allergic asthma. Allergies also typically do not cause a fever or extreme fatigue, according to the National Jewish Health.

Common Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Other less common symptoms are:

  • Loss of taste or smell,
  • Nasal congestion,
  • Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
  • Sore throat,
  • Headache,
  • Muscle or joint pain,
  • Different types of skin rash,
  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Chills or dizziness.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention immediately

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:

  • Irritability,
  • Confusion,
  • Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures),
  • Anxiety,
  • Depression,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • More severe and rare neurological complications such as strokes, brain inflammation, delirium and nerve damage.

Although this list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or which concern you.

The easiest way to determine the difference is by getting a COVID-19 test.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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