Allergies or coronavirus symptoms? Here’s how to tell.

Note: If you are experiencing new or unusual symptoms, we encourage you to consult with your doctor.

With spring comes beautiful flowers, sunny skies, and a whole new crop of allergens to make you sneeze. Even if you have never experienced allergies, our bodies change over time. This means people who have never had allergies may experience them at some point. And unfortunately, allergies will still arrive during a pandemic.

Since COVID-19 (more commonly known as coronavirus) is a respiratory illness, you may worry that each sneeze, sniffle, or throat tickle is something far more serious. However, there are typically some important differences in symptoms that come with common allergies and the novel coronavirus.

How to tell the difference between symptoms

Whether you’ve experienced them before or not, allergy symptoms can be pretty nasty. They might include frequent sneezing or even a cough. Fortunately allergy and coronavirus symptoms have some important differences.

  • Seasonal allergy symptoms include: Runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and a cough
  • Coronavirus symptoms include: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness/exhaustion. Some patients are also reporting a lost sense of smell before any other symptoms.

So, if your symptoms are limited to irritated sinuses, you may simply be experiencing regular allergies. If you’re experiencing totally new symptoms, though, you should bring it up with your doctor as soon as possible.

People can develop allergies at any age, and doctors say adult-onset allergies are increasing in the United States. Some believe more exposure to certain irritants can make you more sensitive to them over time, rather than less.

Why are allergy symptoms so common in the spring?

Allergens, and therefore allergy symptoms are especially common in the spring. These symptoms include congestion, a runny nose, frequent sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes.

While younger people may be able to get away with over-the-counter allergy medication, seniors should contact their doctor right away if they notice these symptoms. Allergies can be especially dangerous to seniors with heart problems, and there’s a chance that an over-the-counter allergy pill could interfere with other medications you take. To ensure safe interaction between medications, talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to recommend the best treatment based on your current health and medications.

There are a few other things you can do to make allergy season easier on your body:

  • Eat foods that fight inflammation, such as apples, ginger, leafy greens, flax seed, walnuts, and fruits, veggies, and beverages high in Vitamin C.
  • Keep an eye on pollen counts by using online weather sites; stay in on days with high levels of pollen.
  • Avoid opening your windows because it will allow pollen and mold to enter your home or vehicle more easily.
  • Avoid line-drying your clothes outside. Air drying your clothes outdoors exposes them to airborne allergens like pollen and ragweed.
  • Keep irritants out of your eyes by wearing sunglasses outdoors.

As part of coronavirus prevention measures, the CDC recommends practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying inside as much as possible. Consequently, you may notice fewer allergy symptoms than you normally would if you’re following these guidelines.

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