Is It COVID or Allergies? How to Tell the Difference

Trees are budding; the flowers are starting to bloom – spring is in the air! Although a beautiful season, for many, springtime means watering eyes, a running nose, and a scratchy, irritated throat.

With surges of COVID-19 still a concern, symptom similarities between allergies and the virus can cause feelings of uncertainty and stress. Knowing the differences between COVID and allergy symptoms is key to peace of mind and keeping you and others safe this spring allergy season.

Clarifying the Cause

An immune reaction to specific substances causes seasonal allergies – think pollens from trees, grasses and weeds, mold spores, house animals, and more. It’s a common problem, with as many as 50 million Americans suffering from allergies each year.

COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and can be severe or even deadly. It’s typically contracted through close contact with an infected person who may or may not show any signs of infection or illness.

Sifting Through the Symptoms

Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies slightly overlap, the common symptoms of COVID-19 are often more severe. There are also some key differences.

Is It COVID or Allergies? How to Tell the Difference
This chart is for educational purposes only. It is not intended for diagnostic use.

Unlike seasonal allergies, COVID-19 causes more respiratory or flu-like symptoms such as shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Another key difference is that COVID-19 symptoms will generally appear rapidly two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. With seasonal allergies, symptoms tend to build and worsen slowly over several days. Any time you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, or cannot stay awake, seek emergency care.

Tackling Treatment

If you’re still unsure of your symptoms, it’s always best to play it safe. COVID-19 tests provide answers fast to help stop the spread of the virus.

If you don’t have COVID-19 and are still bogged down with annoying allergies, there are several things you can do to ease symptoms. For example, you can rinse your nose to remove pollen manually, use an over-the-counter nasal steroid to limit postnasal drip and a stuffy nose, or use antihistamines to help stop sneezing and an itchy, runny nose. You can also use antihistamine nasal sprays and decongestants for short-term relief. If at-home treatment isn’t helping, it’s time to see a medical provider.

Whether you’re looking for quick COVID testing options or help with seasonal allergies, find our urgent care location closest to you for compassionate and convenient care you can count on. Book ahead to save time or schedule a virtual visit to get seasonal allergy relief or COVID questions answered today.