Spotting the difference between COVID-19 and allergies


URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Just as you are familiar with flowers blooming, pollen in the air and farmers prepping their fields, you are probably familiar with coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose and wiping your eyes.

“Often I tell patients if you didn’t have allergies, you’ll have them now moving to Illinois,” said OSF Nurse Practitioner Marcia Zukosky. She said knowing your symptoms and managing them are always important, but especially now.

There is one big difference between common allergies and COVID-19. “The key thing is you usually don’t have a fever,” said Zukosky. There are some similarities between the two. For example, both often come with a cough.

Ask yourself how frequently you are coughing. If you it is occasional, and comes with sneezing, it is probably allergies. But if it is frequent and you have already tried to get rid of it, Zukosky said that is a sign that COVID-19 might be going on as well.

Chart indicating symptoms of COVID-19, flu, cold, and allergies.

Zukosky said to manage your symptoms, take over-the-counter allergy medications; do some nasal rinses; and drink a lot of water. This is so it does not turn into something worse. “I have found that if I let things go too long, and don’t keep up on things, it can develop into something like bronchitis, and that’s what you don’t want to have happen right now, just from a public perception standpoint,” said Zukosky.

For John Farney, it is about getting rid of congestion in his head, before he starts turning heads. “It’s kind of funny, you wouldn’t ever think of it being an issue, but now in today’s world and what’s going on, you’re like ‘oh I have allergies, don’t stare at me.” If you do have allergies and you are leaving your house, health officials said it is even more important that when you reach for your keys, you also reach for your PPE.

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