Allergy and COVID-19: Symptoms and differences

Allergy and COVID-19: Symptoms and differences
WatchWe're in the middle of allergy season and the signs are sounding pretty familiar: Sneezing, coughing and a sore throat. With the overlap in symptoms to COVID-19, it's a stressful time for those seasonal sufferers. Jasmine Bala has more.

With everyone on high alert for COVID-19 symptoms, those experiencing seasonal allergies are experiencing similar worrisome symptoms.

“Plugged up nose maybe, itchy eyes, and then you can slowly get breathing issues,” said Colwood resident Ben Smith, describing his allergic reaction. “Depends on how deep I dive into the grass.”

These are signs of Smith’s seasonal allergy, but they overlap with COVID-19 symptoms.

“It can be a little like… is it that or is it my normal [allergy]?” he said. “It gets a little questionable. You get a little more worried about it for sure.”

On their website, BC Centre for Disease Control notes that if you have symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild, you must isolate for at least 10 days.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing.

Although the symptoms are similar, allergist Victoria Cook said there are still ways to determine if it’s just allergies or something more serious.

“For allergy symptoms, that’s usually all you will see,” she explained. “So you won’t see anything beyond those symptoms and they’re going to generally persist and stay the same way throughout while you’re being exposed to your allergen.”

If it’s the coronavirus, however, Cook said those symptoms could get worse and you may develop additional ones.

“Things like a fever, that’s a common symptom for the coronavirus,” she said, “but that would be a very uncommon symptom — you wouldn’t expect to see a fever with your allergy.”

As COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, allergy patients with asthma and difficulty breathing are particularly concerned.

“If you have poorly controlled asthma, then that’s something that, in theory, could put you at increased risk of having worse symptoms if you were to contract COVID-19,” explained Cook.

“So we’ve heard a lot from our patients with asthma and we’re very keen to make sure that any airway inflammation that they have, that their asthma symptoms are very well controlled with medication, so their lungs are as healthy as can possibly be right now.”

But the advice remains the same for those unsure about their symptoms.

“We can control our symptoms as best as possible with our allergy medications, but if you are showing symptoms, the best advice always is to stay home, stay safe and keep other people safe,” said Cook.

That’s because if you have a mild case of COVID-19, you may not be able to tell the difference, she added.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!