Fall is almost here, and with it comes allergies. Unfortunately, the season is also coinciding with a global pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak could make it difficult to tell the difference between the symptoms for allergies and COVID-19. Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi is here to sort it all out for us.
Dr. Nandi: Yes, it could be a little tricky. But there’s no reason to panic.
There are symptoms common to both allergies and COVID-19, such as coughing, a sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue and a loss of taste or smell.
But, there are a few major differences between the two. First of all, if you’re running a temperature, it’s not allergies. A fever is typically one of the first symptoms of coronavirus.
Another telltale sign that it’s not allergies? Having diarrhea.
And, keep in mind, COVID-19 tends to affect the entire body, while allergies do not.
On the flip side, sneezing and itchy eyes, nose, throat and ears can likely be attributed to environmental allergies.
If you have fall allergies each year, you know better than anyone how it affects you. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms out of the ordinary, contact your healthcare professional for the appropriate tests. If it turns out you have COVID-19, you’ll want to quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
Question: Dr. Nandi, is there a difference in how long the symptoms last for allergies versus coronavirus?
Dr. Nandi: Yes, that’s another clue to what’s ailing you. Allergies will likely last the entire season or until you treat them with medication. In most cases of coronavirus, the symptoms usually last a couple of weeks. Of course, in more severe cases the symptoms will last longer and may require hospitalization.
Question: Dr. Nandi, are allergy sufferers at higher risk of contracting COVID-19?
Dr. Nandi: The main thing that could make allergy sufferers more prone to catch diseases like COVID-19 is that they frequently touch their faces. And the chances increase during an outbreak in their community. Think about it. When you have allergies, you tend to touch or scratch your eyes and wipe or blow your nose. So, if you touch an infected surface and then touch your face, it could spread the virus. The answer? Wash your hands often. Or use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t readily available.