We’re living in a unique time – in the words of physician Natasha Bhuyan, “The flu is decreasing in prevalence, while seasonal allergies are picking up steam. And of course, standard colds continue to circulate — all in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Your head hurts, and before you know it, you wake up from sleep and feel your throat itching and now you’re coughing too. Should you freak out instantaneously or is it just the spring air?
“If you have any respiratory symptoms (coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing), you should self-isolate and call your primary care doctor in case they are indeed markers of COVID-19. You can also have both seasonal allergies and COVID-19 simultaneously,” says Dr. Bhuyan.
So, how do you tell the difference? Here are five questions you can ask yourself before you freak out, as compiled from In Style.
Do you have a temperature?
If you are running a fever well over 100.4°F, you might want to pay attention. “COVID-19 generally runs a fever over 100.4°F, while allergies rarely cause high temperatures,” says Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York-based allergist and immunologist.
Are you congested?
This one’s an easy spot. While both COVID-19 and allergies can cause you to cough, there’s a stark difference between the two – corona causes a dry cough, while one caused by allergies is directly related to post-nasal drainage. While corona may cause congestion, it’s usually rare.
Are you itchy?
Itching anywhere near your skin, eyes, throat or nose is a trademark sign of allergies, and most definitely not associated with corona. So, if you have an itch, it may just be the usual allergy that runs every year.
Do your symptoms change through the day?
Pollen is at its peak when the day starts off, which is why most allergy symptoms are more pronounced in the morning, says Dr. Bhuyan. If your symptoms hit highs and lows through the day, you’re probably developing an allergy – COVID-19 symptoms are known to stay consistent.
Does an allergy pill help?
Antihistamines like Fexet, Rigix and Softin can help in soothing both allergies and cold, so if you pop one and your symptoms subside, it’s a sign that you’re not up against coronavirus.
If you find that you’re suffering from seasonal allergies and hopefully nothing more, you can limit allergens in your house by adapting simple ways - Change your sheets, vacuum, buy an air purifier, and clean up pet dander, and see if that helps your woes, Dr. Bhuyan advises.
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