If you’ve got a stuffy nose, sore throat or a cough in this day and age, it could be something as benign as seasonal allergies or something as serious as the delta variant of COVID-19. Fortunately, there are ways to help you identify which condition you’re likely experiencing. In many cases, you can tell based on your symptoms.
Symptoms of Allergies
Allergies are the result of your immune system overreacting to a substance that is normally harmless, known as an allergen. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system releases antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the cells to release a chemical called histamine. Histamine is responsible for increasing mucus production and inflammation, causing symptoms such as:
- Red, itchy, watery eyes.
- Sinus pain/pressure.
- Nasal congestion.
- Runny nose.
- Postnasal drip.
- Sore/scratchy throat.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The list of symptoms associated with COVID-19 continues to grow as we learn more about the virus. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing.
- Muscle/body aches.
- New loss of taste/smell.
- Sore throat.
- Congestion/runny nose.
How to Tell the Difference Between Allergies & COVID-19
Many symptoms of allergies and COVID overlap, like congestion, runny nose, cough and sore throat, which can make it difficult to tell which condition you’re experiencing. However, there are a few telltale symptoms that can point you to the right condition.
If you have eye symptoms, you’re most likely experiencing allergies.
If you have a fever, body aches, significant loss of taste/smell or fatigue, it’s more likely you have COVID-19.
The cough you’ll experience due to allergies will probably be due to postnasal drip (mucus draining down the back of the throat) whereas a COVID cough is dry.
Note that it’s possible to experience both allergies and COVID-19 at the same time, meaning you could experience symptoms from both lists.
What to Do Next
If you suspect you have COVID-19 or you’re still unsure, it’s important to isolate yourself and get tested at a South Carolina COVID-19 testing site right away.
If your symptoms are due to allergies, contact an allergist to discuss treatment options. For more information about the difference between allergies and COVID-19 or to schedule an appointment with an expert allergist, call Charleston ENT & Allergy today.