Do I Have Fall Allergies Or COVID-19?

Culture

Babylon Village, N.Y.: People wearing masks stroll Main St. in Babylon Village as the sun sets, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Photo by Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images).

Every fall, I spend a day or two thinking I have a cold before I remember that allergies are a thing I deal with every year. Then I pop an antihistamine and feel better in a few hours. But this autumn, amid the pandemic, I’m already on hyper-alert for the slightest sniffle. As pollen counts creep up, I’m probably not the only one wondering, “Is this fall allergies, or do I have COVID-19?”

It’s an understandable question. Coronavirus is still actively infecting people. And due to climate change, pollen season is worse than ever too, so many people are finding that their allergies seem more intense or longer lasting than they’re used to.

So I went straight to Purvi Parikh, MD, an New York City allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, asking her exactly how someone can tell if they’re suffering from hay fever or COVID-19. She broke it down for me.

What are the
symptoms of fall allergies?

If you have fall allergies, you’re probably familiar with the symptoms. If you need a refresher, Dr. Parikh lists a few: “Itchy watery eyes, stuffy nose, a dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, sore throat, itchy throat, itchy ears, rashes such as eczema or hives, and headache.” One thing I keep in mind is that allergies tend to affect the “upper airway,” at least according to an interview James Hildreth, PhD, MD, president and CEO of Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, gave to Refinery29. Hence, the chin-up symptoms.

What are the
symptoms of COVID-19?

We don’t know all of the symptoms of COVID-19 yet, but at this
point in the pandemic, we do have a better idea of some common ones. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention says cough
and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing are indicators, as are fever, chills, repeated shaking with
chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.

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Dr. Parikh says the following symptoms would also tend to make her think COVID over allergies: “A fever of above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, chest tightness, and also some rashes.” Though this is not proven, Dr. Hildreth told Refinery29 that coronavirus tends to affect the “lower airway,” so it may be more likely to manifest as a deeper cough or trouble breathing.

How can you
tell if you have fall allergies or COVID-19?

Even the CDC
acknowledges that plenty of the
symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 overlap. The cough, wheezing or trouble
breathing, headache, sore throat, and congestion, can all appear in either
case, and so can fatigue.

Their website calls out a few symptoms that are more common with each illness, though. Itchy or watery eyes and sneezing tend to be a tell-tale sign of fall allergies. A fever and chills, muscle and body aches, a new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea are all more common to …read more

Source:: Refinery29

      

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