Can Seasonal Allergy Symptoms Mask a COVID-19 Infection?
written by/ May 7, 2021
Feeling all worn out, accompanied by shortness of breath? Before your COVID-19 panic sets in, you should eliminate one less dangerous culprit — seasonal allergies.
Each year, up to 30% of Americans get runny noses due to airborne allergies (allergic rhinitis). Changing your surroundings, like going on a camping trip, for example, might put you in contact with an allergen for the first time.
So how can you tell the difference between seasonal respiratory allergy and a COVID-19 infection?
Allergies vs. COVID-19 Symptoms
Symptoms Typical for Respiratory Allergies
- scratchy throat
- watery and itchy eyes
Symptoms Characteristic for a COVID-19 Infection
- loss of taste
- loss of smell
- skin rash
Unfortunately, allergic rhinitis and COVID-19 share a not-so-short list of symptoms. According to the CDC, these include:
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- difficulty breathing
- nasal congestion
- runny nose
However, these symptoms are different in both quality and sensation.
The cough in allergy-prone people is caused by post-nasal drip, not a lung infection like in COVID-19 patients.
Post-nasal drip also irritates the throat opening the path for infection (sore throat), which can be aggravated by dry air in people with seasonal allergy.
COVID-19-caused sore throat feels swollen and prickly, with mild burning or itching sensation.
The headache in seasonal allergies results from sinus clogging up and is usually worse at specific pressure points.
That said, if you’re still not sure whether you’ve caught COVID-19 or you just got allergies, you should start with OTC antihistamines to eliminate allergy symptoms and prevent allergy-induced complications, such as asthma.
Only a high-sensitivity PCR test can tell whether you are, indeed, infected with COVID-19.