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COVID-19 or allergies: How do I tell the difference?

6 symptoms common of both COVID-19, allergies
Man Sneezing
Posted at 2:16 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 17:39:53-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Spring is here and that means warmer weather, but for many people that also can lead to seasonal allergies.


With some of the symptoms of COVID-19 similar to allergies, it can be tricky to decipher which one you are suffering from.

The Centers for Disease Control put together a diagram to help the public tell the difference.

RELATED: Scientists: Climate change is making allergy season longer, more intense

COVID-19 and seasonal allergy symptoms

The CDC lists six symptoms that patients afflicted with either COVID-19 or allergies may experience.

Symptoms common of both COVID-19 and allergies

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

Symptoms more common of COVID-19

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • New loss of taste and smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms more common of seasonal allergies

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing

Although Florida is not among the worst places in the U.S. for seasonal allergies, the state has multiple cities mentioned in a new report.

Jacksonville (No. 30), Miami (No. 31) and Cape Coral (No. 33) all ranked in the top 100 of the "Most Challenging Places to Live With Allergies," according to a report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Other Florida cities that made the list include Sarasota (No. 51), Palm Bay (No. 55), Lakeland (No. 60), Tampa (No. 70).

Elyse Roelans, a family nurse practitioner at the MinuteClinic, said the high pollen count in Palm Beach County can translate to confusion between COVID-19 and allergies.

Elyse Roelans, MinuteClinic Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner Elyse Roelans says symptoms like fever and body aches only show up in patients with COVID-19 and not those experiencing seasonal allergies.

Roelans said if you get the same symptoms at the same time every year, you probably have allergies.

"More along the lines of coronavirus you're definitely going to have fever body aches more flu-like symptoms. Obviously we've heard that over and over," Roelans said.

But if you are not sure, Roelans said you need to get tested for COVID-19.

"Anybody with any respiratory symptoms ... go ahead and schedule a COVID test first, just so we can rule that out," Roelans said.

If it turns out to be allergies, there's also a test for that too.

"Identify what type of tree, what type of pollen, what type of flower, what type of grass. Maybe it's dander, maybe it's cat hair, dog hair, and we can kind of help identify what it may be that's causing that person to have those allergies," Roelans said.

Medical experts say stay indoors when there is a high pollen count and regularly change your air filter.

If you have to be outside, wearing a mask can also help reduce your allergy symptoms.