Runny nose, headache, fatigue? Doctors explain the differences in allergies and COVID symptoms

Is it the flu or coronavirus? There's one key difference
Posted at 10:28 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 23:51:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — If you couldn't tell by the flowers, the green grass and full trees, springtime is officially here. And your body is probably reminding you of this as well because we're in the height of oak season right now.

As most people know, it’s not just allergy season, we're also still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of this, Dr. Stokes Peebles with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says many people are misdiagnosing the two.

"There's some commonalities of symptoms between COVID and allergies. For instance, you can have runny nose, you can have nasal congestion, you can have headache, you can have fatigue in both of those," said Peebles.

Dr. Peebles says there are some big differences though. "Things that are unique to allergies are sneezing and also itching watery eyes.

With COVID-19, you may have vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and a loss of taste and smell."

If you think it’s the Coronavirus don't wait to act and go ahead and get tested said Peebles.

But if it’s just allergies doctors say over-the-counter medicines should work.

"You can take an antihistamine and decongestant or the best medication will be a nasal corticosteroid, that's the best medication for allergic disease, particularly running nose and nasal congestion," said Peebles.

Dr. Peebles says in some cases you can have allergies and COVID-19 at the same time.

The Center for Disease Control says allergic conjunctivitis is found in up to 30% of the general population and as many as 7 out of 10 of patients with allergic rhinitis.

The CDC reports, adding that symptoms from allergic conjunctivitis include red, watery, or itchy eyes. Coronavirus and the common cold also share many symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea and nausea or vomiting are the only symptoms associated with coronavirus that don't overlap with the common cold.