How to Tell the Difference

Simple fact checked on May well 26, 2022 by Vivianna Shields, a journalist and reality-checker with encounter in health and fitness and wellness publishing.

For the past two a long time, COVID-19 has coincided with allergy seasons—and most just lately, with the virus’ Omicron variant (and its BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 subvariants), it is really more complicated to distinguish concerning the two.

With Omicron and its subvariants specifically—due to increased exposure to COVID-19 by vaccination or prior health issues, or other variables—the virus frequently results in extra moderate ailment. While indications you should not stray also much from those ordinarily linked with COVID-19 in normal, Omicron and its subvariants, can search a lot like the frequent cold, and even seasonal allergy symptoms.

“Allergy and [Omicron] signs might mimic one particular one more,” Jeffrey Dlott, MD, senior healthcare director at Quest Diagnostics, informed Wellness. “For the reason that of this, an individual may perhaps confuse COVID symptoms for allergy signs or symptoms and not take the right safety measures to lower distribute.”

Here’s what to know about how equivalent Omicron indications can look as opposed to allergies, and ways to consider to confirm possibly prognosis.

Although COVID-19 and allergies are brought on by significantly unique things—the SARS-CoV-2 virus and airborne substances like pollen, respectively—the two can current similarly. Higher respiratory indicators like nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, headache, and tiredness can exhibit up with both situations.

But as soon as you get previous these frequent respiratory symptoms, the two circumstances start to glance progressively different. “With Omicron or other viral health problems, persons tend to feel less than the weather and never come to feel perfectly, but allergies really don’t genuinely give you that emotion,” Judith Berger, MD, director of the division of infectious disorders at SBH Well being Process in Bronx, New York , instructed Wellbeing. “Allergic reactions also have a tendency to not give you a fever or muscle mass aches.”

Fever particularly is a essential indicator that you may have COVID-19 rather of allergy symptoms, according to Scott Fedlman, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medical medicine in the division of allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania Health and fitness System. That is due to the fact fever, or a rise in entire body temperature, is one of the techniques the system tries to combat off infection or illness—the physique effectively tends to make by itself inhospitable for viruses and micro organism to survive and multiply.

A unexpected decline of flavor and odor could suggestion you off to a COVID-19 infection far more than allergic reactions, far too. “Allergic reactions can cause some mild lower in odor when your nose is stuffy,” mentioned Dr. Feldman. “But the sudden decline of odor is less possible to be owing to allergy symptoms.”

What could be owing to allergic reactions, however, is itchy or watery eyes—symptoms that are frequent with pet and seasonal allergic reactions, but not with COVID-19, stated Dr. Feldman.

If your signs or symptoms by yourself have you on the fence about no matter whether you might be working with Omicron or allergies, there are other non symptom-dependent methods to enable understand the big difference.

Allergy Record

Clients who have allergic reactions know they have allergies—there’s typically a background of indicators and specific exposures that people today can recall, Jeanne Lomas, DO, Director of Allergy and Immunology at WellNow Allergy, told Wellbeing.

The timing can idea you off, much too. In accordance to Dr. Berger, men and women with a record of allergy symptoms tend to existing indications around the similar time each individual year and in the same conditions.

But understanding you will not have a historical past of allergy symptoms can aid you out, as effectively. If you do not typically encounter seasonal allergies, and then suddenly create chilly-like signs or symptoms, the problem is “a lot more most likely infectious than allergic,” said Dr. Feldman.

Unhelpful Allergy Medicines

Individuals who use medicine to control allergy symptoms may be able to distinguish amongst COVID-19 and allergies by narrowing down symptoms, claimed Dr. Berger.

Ordinarily, allergy medicines efficiently handle indicators like congestion, runny nose, and coughing—but they will never handle other infection-centered indications like physique aches, fever, or decline of style and scent.

“Allergy medicines will deal with a couple of signs or symptoms of congestion or runny nose” in individuals who have allergic reactions, stated Dr. Berger. “It will not reduce the shortness of breath, intense, [and] it isn’t going to return your sense of odor and flavor.”

COVID-19 Testing

If you are even now unsure as to no matter whether you have COVID-19 or allergy symptoms, it really is advisable to just take a COVID-19 take a look at, specially if you have much more COVID-specific symptoms.

“Tests is the greatest way to determine if somebody has COVID or seasonal allergies,” stated Dr. Dlott. This can be by an at-dwelling antigen exam or as a result of a PCR test.

Sometimes, having said that, at-property antigen assessments specially may possibly not be as delicate in picking up COVID-19 infections. “A individual with a minimal viral load may not take a look at constructive even if they have the virus, so it is often essential to be cautious if you are encountering indications.” In that condition, tests once more in the future day or two can help ensure success even further.

If you do check good, even with milder COVID-19 indicators, it’s vital to adhere to steerage from the Centers for Disease Command and Avoidance on correct isolation methods. That implies keeping at dwelling for at the very least 5 days and until you might be fever-totally free for at the very least 24 several hours. Just after that, you really should go on to dress in a perfectly-fitting mask in community for five more times.

The information in this tale is accurate as of press time. Nonetheless, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it truly is possible that some knowledge have improved since publication. Though Overall health is seeking to preserve our tales as up-to-date as probable, we also inspire readers to keep knowledgeable on information and recommendations for their very own communities by utilizing the CDC, WHO, and their community community well being department as methods.

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