On Everyone’s Mind This Allergy Season: Is it COVID-19?

By Amichai Perlman, PhD, PharmD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 28, 2021

Spring has come and vaccination for COVID-19 is now in full swing. Return to normalcy is finally within sight. However, COVID-19 is still here, and precautions are still warranted as you can still catch COVID after being vaccinated. The full benefit of vaccination will be reached in the coming weeks, once both we as individuals, and the community around us, are fully vaccinated.

For many the spring also portends an increase in allergy symptoms. These can include congestion, coughing, shortness of breath, and other bothersome and unpleasant symptoms. In the COVID era, these symptoms can also cause some concern – is it really “just allergies” or have I finally caught COVID? 

Allergy Symptoms vs. COVID-19 Symptoms: What’s the Difference?

While allergies and COVID share some common symptoms, some of the symptoms strongly suggest one over the other. 

Characteristic symptoms of COVID-19 that are not typically seen with allergies include:

  • Fever
  • New loss of taste
  • Muscle aches

Conversely, allergy symptoms that are not associated with COVID-19 include:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing

If you’re not sure which category your symptoms fall into, talk to a doctor to get a professional medical diagnosis. They can also prescribe you the right treatment plan for your symptoms.

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Looking Beyond Symptoms

Symptoms alone are sometimes not sufficient for a definitive diagnosis, and one condition can be mistaken for the other. To better understand whether your symptoms are related to allergies or COVID-19, look at your personal medical history.

If you have a history of allergies, have experienced relief from taking antihistamine medication, and or experience your symptoms following exposure to an allergen, you likely have allergies. 

Similarly, if you’ve been exposed to someone that has the coronavirus, it is likely that your symptoms indicate a COVID-10 infection. If you are immune to COVID-19 due to vaccination or antibodies, your symptoms are likely not the result of a coronavirus infection. 

If You Think You Have Coronavirus

If you think you might have symptoms of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that you get a COVID test. In addition, regardless of symptom and immune status, testing is recommended following close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19, unless you are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID. Other situations with increased likelihood of exposure to COVID include air-travel, attending large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded or poorly-ventilated indoor settings.

If you have doubt or concerns whether you may have been exposed to COVID, whether your symptoms are related to having caught COVID, and whether you should be tested, you can check your symptoms & get medical advice on the K Health app.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Amichai Perlman, PhD, PharmD

Dr. Perlman is a clinical pharmacist and pharmacoepidemiologist, with over 10 years of experience advising patients and clinicians on medication use, personalization, and safety. He has extensively published peer-reviewed research addressing medication safety.