AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As allergy season once again overcomes the High Plains with a mixture of warm weather and high winds, anxieties and confusion have lingered for some as their symptoms seem to mimic those of COVID-19. This could become increasingly relevant as, according to previous reports by NewsNation, COVID-19 case numbers have seen a recent rise across some portions of the US.

UnitedHealthcare published a few tips on how a person might tell the difference between the virus and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of COVID-19

As described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness that can spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. There has been a wide array of reported symptoms of COVID-19, and those infected may experience a range from mild symptoms to severe illness. However, the CDC noted that some symptoms are more common:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

While the CDC said that list does not include all possible symptoms of COVID-19, those have been reported more often by those confirmed to be infected. The CDC also published a self-checking tool on its website to assist with screening for possible COVID-19 infection.

Symptoms of Allergies

Allergies impact nearly 50 million Americans each year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and occur when a person’s immune system reacts to a foreign material like pollen, pet dander, or certain foods. While reported allergy symptoms have a broad range, UnitedHealthcare noted that some are the most common:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy, runny nose and/or sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip, which can cause a sore throat or a cough

“What if I’m really not sure?”

Although there is some obvious difference in the lists of symptoms, a person who is experiencing a cough, congestion, and a sore throat – or another set of milder symptoms – may still be unsure whether to give credit to allergies or COVID-19 for their condition. However, healthcare leaders have noted a few indicators that could help a person determine the likely cause of their symptoms.

The CDC noted that if a person doesn’t have a fever, loss of taste or smell, or trouble breathing, then they are more likely experiencing allergies than COVID-19. Further, itchy or watery eyes and sneezing were noted as more common in seasonal allergies than in COVID-19.

Another indicator, said UnitedHealthcare, is that COVID-19 symptoms typically progress over a shorter period of time than allergies, appearing two to 14 days after possible exposure. If a person has been experiencing the same mild symptoms for a long stretch of time, that may be evidence that they have allergies instead of COVID-19.

Further, UnitedHealthcare said that a person might have allergies if over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays are helping them feel better.

Despite these indicators and tips, healthcare leaders such as the CDC suggest that if a person thinks they may have been exposed and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that they contact their doctor or healthcare provider and consider taking a COVID-19 test.

The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and treatments on the High Plains can be found here.