Experiencing a sneeze, cough or throat tickle may be more nerve-wracking these days as we watch another rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the BA.2 variant. Before worry sets in, remember that spring is the time of year for seasonal allergies, which affect close to 50 million Americans each year.
Allergies may linger for months in the spring season. If you feel symptomatic, the time of year may be a good indicator that you may have allergies. COVID-19 symptoms typically progress more rapidly over a shorter period of time, appearing 2 to 14 days after possible exposure.
Another indicator for allergies is that over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays are helping you feel better. There is no current evidence that shows allergy sufferers are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
For more information on the symptoms you may be experiencing, consider using a COVID-19 symptom checker. You also can learn more about your symptoms by contacting your doctor or health-care provider.
To help you determine if your symptoms are the result of COVID-19 or allergies, it may be best to look at the hallmark symptoms of each.
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness that spreads through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The most common COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says COVID-19 symptoms that require immediate medical attention include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to rouse
- Bluish lips or face
If you believe you have any of the severe COVID-19 symptoms listed, contact your doctor. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms, call your health care provider. They may recommend you take an at-home, over-the-counter COVID-19 test.
Allergies occur when a person’s immune system reacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen, pet dander or certain foods. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it’s not often associated with allergies. The CDC notes if you don’t have a fever, loss of taste or smell or trouble breathing, allergies are the more likely culprit, if you’re not feeling well. Itchy or watery eyes and sneezing are more common in seasonal allergies than with COVID-19. Allergy symptoms may include:
- Itchy eyes
- Itchy nose
- Runny congested nose
- Sore throat or cough associated with post-nasal drip