Allergies or COVID-19? How to tell the difference


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — As allergy season kicks into gear, those experiencing symptoms may worry that they have contracted the coronavirus.

During a time of hyper health awareness, concern over the slightest cough or sneeze is understandable, and such symptoms will only increase as spring arrives and pollen fills the air.

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As the pandemic lingers, it’s important to know when to quarantine and when to just buy some Benadryl or other allergy medication. Here are the symptoms specific to allergies versus COVID-19 as well as a few that exist for both.


  • Irritated eyes, including itching, watering and burning symptoms. This can be treated with basic over-the-counter eye drops or general allergy medication.
  • Sneezing


  • Fever and chills. Fevers can range from low-grade temperatures to more than 100 degrees.
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Shared symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing is more complicated, according to the Kansas City Health Department. Both COVID-19 and allergies can cause difficulty breathing, but with allergies, it’s mostly in people who already have a breathing or lung condition. With COVID-19, breathing issues can happen even in those who don’t have prior conditions.

Anyone who may be concerned that they have COVID-19 and are showing related symptoms should get a coronavirus test and self-isolate until receiving a negative result, according to guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To keep allergies under control, the Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips:

  • Reduce your exposure to things that trigger your allergies, such as grass and pollen.
  • Be aware of how much pollen is in the air by checking local media.
  • Keep your indoor air clean by using such things as portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or humidifiers.
  • Try an over-the-counter remedy to ease symptoms.
  • Rinse your sinuses with saline solution.
  • Consider alternative treatments.

If more help is needed, consult your doctor.

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