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Is it Allergies or Is it COVID?

Friday, April 2, 2021

Though the weather and daylight may have changed with the new season, the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. New blossoms and leaves have sprung up — and vaccinations continue to move us toward better days — but mask protocols and social distancing guidelines are still necessary to keep everyone safe.

So how do you know if your new sore throat, congestion, sneezes, or weariness are signs of standard allergies, or symptoms of COVID?

Fortunately, we know a lot more today about the symptoms of COVID-19 than we did a year ago. Let’s take a look at how you can recognize the differences as you care for you and your family’s well-being.

Symptoms to Look For

There are several overlaps in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies, as pointed out in this infographic from the CDC in September 2020. They include:

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Fatigue
  • Cough Sore throat

The Mayo Clinic included these same symptoms as signs of both allergies and COVID-19 in a post from March of 2021, with a couple qualifications, including that cough and tiredness are “sometimes” experienced during allergies, and a sore throat “rarely.”

One thing both sources agree on is that some key symptoms are far more common with COVID-19, but not with allergies. Those symptoms are:

  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Note too that itchy nose, eyes, mouth, and inner ear are symptoms which both sources associate with seasonal allergies, but not with COVID-19.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology agrees:

“One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between allergy and coronavirus symptoms is to check your eyes... Coronavirus symptoms generally do not cause those uncomfortable itchy, watery eyes.”

When to Get a Test

If your symptoms match some of those associated with COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider for a consultation as quickly as possible.

If you’re experiencing significant difficulty breathing or serious chest pains, call 911 right away.

Even if your symptoms are simply spring allergies in high gear and not COVID-19, we want to know and help you with solutions. Your provider should remain informed of any COVID-19 tests you are taking independently, and can give advice regardless of the results.

“It’s better to be on the safe side when it comes to your health,” says SouthCoast Health family medicine physician, Dr. Leland R. Dampier, III. “And we’ll want to have a record of any significant changes in symptoms, as part of your long-term care.”

Keeping Yourself Healthy

Experts recommend several things to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (as well as flu, the common cold, and other viruses), including those updated in March 2021 by the CDC:

“Wearing a cloth face mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 also might provide some protection against seasonal allergies,” the Mayo Clinic advises. Washing your mask regularly is important in all cases, but especially for allergies, as small pollen particles may still cling to it.

Regardless of the cause of your symptoms, SouthCoast Health’s integrated system of care is here to help. If you have further questions about your allergies or concerns about coronavirus, need tips for protecting yourself against both, or are seeking general wellness advice for the spring season, we’re here to help you and your family. Click here to schedule an appointment with us or give us a call at 912-691-3600.

Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Hilton Head, Hinesville, and Statesboro. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Asthma, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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