How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms

Wearing a face mask may help with more than just COVID-19, allergists say

ByKaren Jordan KTRK logo
Thursday, August 27, 2020
How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
Allergists explain how to tell the difference between allergy symptoms and COVID-19. They also say wearing a face mask can give extra protection against pollen.

It's the height of summer, but the fall allergy season is upon us. Ragweed and mold levels are on the rise, which can mean misery for allergy sufferers.

"I'm able to deal with it a lot better than I was in the past, but in the past, it was pretty terrible," David Soler said.

Soler is one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies.

He says he has heightened concerns this year because of the pandemic and because some allergy symptoms mirror those of COVID-19.

It's made 13-year-old Diana Gomez paranoid, even though she knows the triggers for her allergies.

"Normally when I go out, my throat gets itchy or I want to sneeze but I can't because I'm in public and everybody looks at me like I'm crazy, like get away from me," Gomez said.

Allergists say it's important for people to know the difference in symptoms.

"COVID-19 tends to have that dry cough. It's a respiratory virus that tends to have that dry cough," Dr. Juanita Mora said.

She also pointed out more symptoms for the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and muscle aches. Allergies can also cause itchy eyes, itchy nose, runny nose and postnasal drip.

Dr. Rachna Shah oversees the daily allergy count at Loyola medicine. She says chronic allergy sufferers should keep up with their medications and that also wearing a mask may come in handy.

"I've seen so many of my patients improve because of wearing a mask," Shah said. "So it's like you have double benefit from it. Doing outdoor activities with a mask will decrease pollen in the nose."

If you suffer from allergies, some steps you can take include going out later in the day when the pollen is not as high, sleeping or driving with your windows closed on high-pollen days and rinsing off or changing clothes after being outside.