Distinguishing Seasonal Allergies From COVID-19

With the symptoms for COVID-19 being remarkably similar to the symptoms for seasonal allergies, many are concerned about how they will tell the difference between COVID symptoms and seasonal allergies as they ramp up this fall. Although the symptoms are somewhat similar, educating yourself about seasonal allergies and symptoms may help you to distinguish them from COVID symptoms better.

 

Seasons Where Specific Allergens Are Most Prominent:

Spring: February – May:

With springtime comes breathing difficulties, skin allergies, and congestion issues. Tree pollen season occurs during this season in Ohio when the trees begin pollinating. This does not just affect you when you are physically outside, but even having windows open in the house can affect your springtime allergies.

Summer: May – July:

Grass pollen allergies are most prominent in the summer since they begin pollinating in May and peak towards the end of the month, ending in early June. Anyone with allergies to grass pollen is going to struggle during this time. July is not as prominent for these allergies, but they still exist with the humid weather.

Fall: August – November:

Ragweed season is in September, making it one of the most challenging months for people with seasonal allergies. Mold spores also tend to rise in the fall with all the falling leaves and dying plants. The resurgence of allergy symptoms during this period is often called “hay fever.”

Winter: December – January:

The primary allergen we encounter during the winter in the Midwest is mold. Additionally, because people are inside more in the winter, any pet and dust allergens will be prominent.

After understanding which allergens are prominent during which seasons, it’s essential to understand the symptoms of seasonal allergies and how they differ from COVID symptoms.

 

Difference Between COVID and Seasonal Allergies

According to the CDC, symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies can include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose

However, the CDC also claims that seasonal allergies cause itchy or watery eyes and sneezing and do not tend to cause fevers, loss of taste and smell, nausea, or muscle and body aches. It’s also important to remember that difficulty breathing does not necessarily mean COVID and could be a sign of allergies if the person has asthma or other respiratory conditions. Additionally, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, facial coverings such as masks can affect the breathing of people with asthma during seasonal allergies.

Recommendations:

If you are concerned about seasonal allergies this fall, here are some things you can consider:

  • Ask the parents if their children experience seasonal allergies. If so, recommend they ask their child’s doctor about taking a daily allergy medication so that you can do your best to distinguish their allergy symptoms from COVID symptoms.
  • Keep those with allergies away from potential allergens if possible. For example, you might want to consider keeping those who experience allergies during ragweed season inside in air-conditioned spaces, so their allergies do not flare-up.
  • Educate yourself using the resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your state’s health department.

Even though allergies are common, it’s crucial that you do not ignore potential COVID symptoms and assume they are allergies. It’s better to be safe than sorry and recommend a child with these symptoms to see a medical professional to ensure everyone’s safety in the classroom.