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Sorting Out Symptoms: Fall allergies or COVID-19

Sandra Hong, MD, tells us which fall allergy symptoms can mimic coronavirus and how to tell them apart.

Fall allergy season may be tricky this year with COVID-19 in the mix.

Allergy symptoms often mimic those of coronavirus, but according to Sandra Hong, MD, an allergist at Cleveland Clinic, there are a couple of telltale signs that it’s not allergies.

“With coronavirus symptoms, very frequently, they’ll come on with fevers. If you have a fever, it’s not going to be allergies,” she said. “If you have diarrhea, that’s also not allergies. That’s something completely different.”

Cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue and loss of taste and smell are all coronavirus symptoms, but they’re also common in people with allergies.

Dr. Hong said another good way to decipher between the two is itching. If your eyes, nose, throat and ears are itchy – it’s likely allergies.

And if you get the same symptoms, at the same time, every year, you probably have allergies.

How long you suffer is also a clue.

“Typically with coronavirus, the symptoms will last for a couple weeks, they can sometimes be lingering, but typically not like allergies where they can be months on end, a whole season.”

If you have fall allergies each year, you’re probably all too familiar with what makes you feel miserable.

However, if any new symptoms arise, Dr. Hong said it’s a good idea to contact a health care professional to rule out COVID-19.

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