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Is it Allergies or is it COVID-19?

April 21, 2021 | Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources


It may feel like déjà vu, but here we are again: a second spring season in the midst of a global pandemic. And for many of us, we find ourselves once again wondering, “are my symptoms from spring allergies or from COVID-19?”

“Many of the symptoms typical of COVID-19 are similar to symptoms of seasonal allergies, making it difficult to tell the difference,” said Dr. Michael Freiman, ear, nose and throat physician at Penn Highlands Tyrone. “But there are a few warning signs that it could be COVID-19, including fatigue, fever and chills. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or other COVID-19 symptoms, contact your primary care provider.”

How do I know if its allergies or COVID-19?

While seasonal allergies and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms, there are a few key differences. Unlike allergies, COVID-19 is a viral illness, and fever and chills are common symptoms of viral infections. On the other hand, itchy or watery eyes are classic symptoms of spring allergies, but unlikely symptoms of COVID-19. 

The chart below, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a general overview of symptoms that can help you tell the difference between COVID-19 and allergies.

SymptomCOVID-19Allergies
Fever or chills X 
Fatigue X X
Cough X X
Sore throat X X
Headaches X X
Runny or stuffy nose X X
Shortness of breath X 
Body aches X 
Loss of taste or smell X 
Sneezing  X
Itchy or watery eyes  X

Do your symptoms get worse when you’re outside?

Aside from specific symptoms, there is another way you can distinguish spring allergies from COVID-19. Allergies typically worsen when you spend time outside, whereas a viral infection like COVID-19 will steadily get worse regardless of whether you’re inside or out.

I have seasonal allergies. Am I more vulnerable to COVID-19?

Currently, there is no evidence that people with allergies are more likely to get COVID-19. While individuals with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to serious cases of COVID-19, allergies are actually an overreaction of the immune system. However, if you have asthma, you may be at a higher risk for a viral infection. Talk to your primary care provider or an asthma specialist to learn how to manage your asthma and reduce your risk.

Could I have both allergies and COVID-19?

Yes, it is entirely possible that you could have allergies and COVID-19 at the same time. If you think you may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, especially fatigue or a fever, contact your primary care provider.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is now scheduling eligible individuals in accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Phases. Individuals interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, please visit www.phhealthcare.org/vaccine or call the PHH Vaccine Information Line at 814-503-4735 to schedule an appointment or for more information.