The present time is such that every sneeze and cough, and each event of a raised body temperature may make you turn in panic towards the possibility of being infected with COVID-19. 

Also, there is too much information available on COVID-19, which adds to the preexisting confusion regarding its symptoms. 

COVID-19 comes with a wide range of symptoms, a lot of which overlap with conditions such as common cold, seasonal flu, or even allergies. 

So each time you experience one or more of these common symptoms, it need not be a sign of COVID-19. During the allergy season, some of these symptoms could also indicate that you are suffering from allergies, especially if you have a history of allergies. 

How can you determine whether you have COVID-19 or are suffering from allergies? 

It is important to diagnose the correct medical condition so that treatment and precautionary measures, if any, can be started at the earliest. 

First, let's have a quick look at each of these conditions. 

Introduction to COVID-19 and Seasonal Allergies

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (commonly known as the Coronavirus) which spreads when respiratory droplets and aerosols from an infected person come in contact with your eyes, nose and mouth. The virus may also spread from touching contaminated surfaces and subsequently touching your eyes, nose, and mouth without washing your hands. 

An allergy is an exaggerated response of your immune system to a substance (called an allergen) that is not usually harmful to your body. This reaction can range from mild to severe and affect various parts of your body. 

Examples of such harmless substances that may trigger an allergic reaction include foods, drugs, animal products, moulds, plants, and insect stings. Allergies may be seasonal or affect you year-long. 

Differences in Symptoms of COVID-19 and Seasonal Allergies

Let’s see the differences between the symptoms of allergies and COVID-19. 

1. Length of symptoms: Allergic patients usually have a history of several weeks or months of symptoms, whereas, in the case of COVID-19, the symptoms are acute in onset and can last for up to 3 weeks.

2. Dry cough: It is a common occurrence with COVID-19. It can also occur with allergic conditions but that is rare. Allergies cause more of a tickle in the throat. 

3. Shortness of breath/difficulty in breathing: It is a common symptom in patients with COVID-19 but is extremely rare in allergic patients unless the patient is a diagnosed case of asthma.

4. Sneezing: Sneezing is usually associated with allergies, (it is a hallmark of allergic rhinitis, the most common type of allergy) and is usually not seen in COVID-19 patients.

5. Runny/stuffy nose: This symptom is quite common with allergies and can also occur in patients infected with COVID-19.

6. Headache: Both COVID-19 and allergies can lead to headaches. 

7. Fever: Patients with COVID-19 usually present with fever, but it is not a direct symptom in case of an allergy.

8. Body ache/muscle pain: These symptoms might be present in COVID-19 but are not associated with allergic conditions.

9. Weakness/fatigue: It is a symptom usually associated with COVID-19, but is also seen in some cases of allergies. 

10. Itchy nose/mouth/eyes/inner ear: This set of symptoms is usually seen in patients with allergies, but is not associated with COVID-19. 

11. Sore throat: A sore throat is one of the less common symptoms of COVID-19, and can also be seen in some cases of allergies. 

12. Recent loss of taste and/or smell: A loss of taste and smell is a common symptom in patients of COVID-19. Since several allergies cause congestion in the nose, they may also cause a mild loss of smell and taste in some cases. 

13. Conjunctivitis (pink eye): It is also one of the less common symptoms of COVID-19, and may be seen in patients with allergies. Allergic conjunctivitis is a type of allergy that causes pink eyes. 

14. Diarrhoea: COVID-19 infection may occasionally cause diarrhoea. However, it is not present in patients with allergic conditions (barring food allergies).

15. Nausea and vomiting: Patients with COVID-19 may suffer from nausea and vomiting in some instances. However, they are not symptoms of allergies.

You can observe yourself for these symptoms and determine if you have a case of allergies or could be infected with COVID-19. 

However, more than 80% of COVID-19 cases have very mild or no symptoms at all. Hence, you must stay vigilant and follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. 

Consult an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist if you wish to seek treatment for your allergies. Further, you should contact a doctor immediately if you develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms mentioned above, isolate yourself, and get yourself tested if you believe you may be infected. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.