Doctor explains how to tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergy symptoms

Thursday, September 23, 2021
National office

With the onset of fall and another round of seasonal allergies, doctors are once again warning against confusing an allergic reaction with a COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Casey Mabry, of Ascension St. Agnes Health in Maryland, said irritating allergy symptoms can linger, but the underlying causes — summer vs. fall — differ.

“It’s hard to prevent allergies, but you can definitely limit your exposure,” Mabry said. “Spring and summer allergies tend to be grass and flowers while the trees are blooming. Fall is a bit different. It tends to be dust and mold.”

Now add to the COVID-19 mix with symptoms like coughing, congestion and a general feeling of bad weather while crossing.

But there is an essential difference.

“Allergies will never cause a fever. If you have a fever, you can’t blame it on your allergies. Please get tested for COVID,” Mabry said.

Mabry said another way to put it is to be honest with yourself: Are the symptoms you’re experiencing something you’ve seen before or something new?

“If you have any new allergies this year, they’re probably not allergies. If all of a sudden you have congestion and a sore throat, and you’re not feeling well in the fall , but you’ve never had this before, maybe do a test,” Mabry said.

Also, keep in mind that itching often accompanies allergies, much like a loss of taste or smell accompanies COVID-19.

“It’s tricky because we don’t see as much loss of smell with the delta variant, but still, if you lose your sense of smell, that’s definitely a lot more concerning,” Mabry said.

Mabry said to stay hydrated and wear face masks to stop the spread of COVID-19. Also be sure to wash the masks to avoid more allergies this fall.

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