How to tell the difference between allergies and COVID-19

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — As COVID cases ramp up at the same time as spring allergies, doctors say it’s important to know the difference between the two because the symptoms are similar.

“I think it’s like the weather changing. A lot of my friends are sick. It’s pretty bad this year,” said Alfonso Zamarra, a student at St. Joseph’s University.

“I think I can tell if it’s going to be allergies or COVID. I mean my allergies are like stuffy nose, runny nose, stuff like that,” said Jamai Vann from Overbrook.

As trees bud and flowers bloom in the City of Brotherly Love, doctors say it may be easy to write off COVID symptoms as allergies, and it’s something they’re seeing.

“We’ve had patients who have come in saying to us ‘I have allergy symptoms.’ But based on their description of the symptoms, it was concerning for COVID. And we tested them and found COVID in patients who thought they just had allergies,” said Dr. Paul Swanson of ENT and Allergy Specialists – Bryn Mawr.

The CDC does have a symptom breakdown available. It says common symptoms of COVID-19 that are rare for allergies include fever and chills, muscle and body aches, new loss of taste and smell, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Conversely, “If you have itching, itching in the nose, itching in the mouth, that’s much more likely to be allergies than COVID,” said Dr. Swanson.

If you are looking for relief, doctors say it’s going to be a long allergy season.

“The spring trees just sort of morph into the summer grasses and then into the fall weeds. So we expect allergy season with the pollens to go through September, October,” said Dr. Swanson.

If you are experiencing bad allergies, doctors say there’s a COVID tool you can use to prevent symptoms: wear an N-95 mask, they filter out pollen.

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