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IS IT COVID-19 OR SEASONAL ALLERGIES?

Sick childLisa Hiers, MSN, APRN, NP-C, AE-C, is a board-certified nurse practitioner in the Allergy and Immunology Division at Children’s National Hospital. She shared in its Rise and Shine blog that there is some overlap between seasonal allergy symptoms and COVID-19, so sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference as we enter another pandemic spring, pollen counts are on the rise and the coronavirus continues to circulate in our communities. There is some overlap between seasonal allergy symptoms and COVID-19, so sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference! Here is a quick review of allergy symptoms versus COVID-19 symptoms.

Overlapping symptoms of allergies and COVID-19

The most common overlapping (meaning these can happen with allergies or COVID-19) symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 are:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose (this is less common in COVID-19)

Cough and shortness of breath happen less often with allergies unless the person has a history of asthma which can be triggered by pollen.

Allergy symptoms

Individuals with seasonal allergies frequently experience the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Itchy and/or watery eyes

These symptoms are NOT associated with COVID-19 and generally get better with over-the-counter allergy medications (antihistamines) such as Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra. Nasal corticosteroid sprays, such as Flonase, Nasonex, or Nasacort are also often helpful for seasonal allergy symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 infection most often involves the following symptoms:

  • Fever/chills
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste and/or smell

If any of these symptoms are present, your child should be kept home in quarantine as a precaution until a COVID-19 test can be arranged.

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