Is it Fall Allergies or COVID-19?

It's time for fall allergies to flare up. Before, you might have blamed ragweed or other pollens. But these days, there is another possibility to think about: Could it be COVID-19?

symptomsCOVID-19 and allergies sometimes have similar symptoms. But there are a few ways to tell the two apart. Click on the graphic to the right to compare symptoms.

How they may be similar

A runny or stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue can occur with both allergies and COVID-19, according to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

People with allergies sometimes have asthma too. If so, their allergies may trigger COVID-19-like symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

People with allergies can even seem to lose their sense of taste or smell—another classic COVID-19 symptom—due to a stuffy nose.

How they're different

Some allergy symptoms rarely, if ever, occur with COVID-19. So they can give you important clues to what's going on. For instance, it's more likely to be allergies if you have:

  • Sneezing.
  • Itchy, watery eyes.
  • An itchy nose, roof of the mouth or throat.

Likewise, these COVID-19 symptoms typically do not occur with allergies, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) reports:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Diarrhea.

Call your doctor if you have any COVID-19 symptoms (especially a fever or cough) or any symptoms that concern you, the AAFA advises. You may need a COVID-19 test.

Feel better this fall

If it is fall allergies, there's a lot you can do to keep them in check. You may be able to reduce your allergy symptoms by reducing your exposure to the things that trigger them for you. In the fall, that's often ragweed pollens, mold or other airborne substances.

Steps like these can help:

  • Try to stay inside when mold or pollen counts are high. Keep your windows closed on these days to keep things from getting inside.
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing or raking leaves.
  • Change your clothes and shower after being outside.

You also can ask your doctor about over-the-counter and prescription medicines to help ease allergy symptoms.