How to tell the difference between allergy symptoms and COVID-19

Posted at 3:15 PM, May 28, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — May and June are when allergies are the worst in many parts of the country, and with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the country, it can be difficult to tell the difference.

"About 15% to 30% of our population is allergic in one form or another. It's very common," said Dr. Mason Goodman, a pulmonologist at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis.

Goodman says the most noticeable symptoms of allergies are sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, sinus, and congestions. People with allergies can also experience a dry cough.

A fever, however, is a common COVID-19 symptom that is not associated with seasonal allergies.

"One of the things besides fever that is common in people that exhibit COVID-19 is cough, and that is usually dry and nonproductive and doesn't have sputum associated with that," Goodman said. "A sore throat that is usually more intense than what is seen in allergies is also usually present. Shortness of breath, especially with activity, is a big issue as well, and multiple body aches and pain and fatigue are also present as well."

Gastrointestinal issues have also been reported as a COVID-19 symptom, something allergy sufferers typically won't experience.

Goodman also says those with allergies likely won't need to worry about being more susceptible or having a more severe case of COVID-19.

"Probably somebody that has what is called 'seasonal pollinosis' — meaning that they have problems that occur only in particular seasons, spring, fall or whatever — probably, that is not a terribly large risk factor for more severe problems with coronavirus," Goodman said.

About half of people who have allergies have an asthma-related response. Goodman says those with asthmatic issues may be more susceptible to severe problems with coronavirus.

This story was originally published by Alyssa Donovan on WRTV in Indianapolis.