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Spring allergy vs. COVID-19: How can you tell the difference?

Twin Cities doctor takes the guesswork out of allergy-like symptoms with the facts about the coronavirus.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Spring has sprung and so has spring allergy season. Pollen is in the air. For some of us, there is a downside to trees and flowers in bloom. Lots of people are having problems with breathing, sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes, and feeling miserable. Doctors say spring allergies often involve the nasal and sinus areas and lead to runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. They say many people know what their typical allergies feel like and experience them to some degree year after year.

However, health experts say spring allergies can produce sinus and breathing problems that may look a lot like COVID-19 symptoms. So, how to you know if what you’re experiencing is a case of spring allergies or a coronavirus infection? What are the similarities and differences? When should you seek a professional opinion?

Doctors say COVID-19 is more likely to show up with a cough, fever, and body aches. The loss of taste or smell is something that is highly likely a sign of the coronavirus. Symptoms certainly can and do overlap. If there is any doubt, get a COVID-19 test. Health experts warn that’s especially important if you are going to be in a public setting where you might be exposing others around you to COVID-19.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your discomfort, the best advice is to check with your family doctor. A simple COVID-19 test can rule out COVID-19. Also, a coronavirus vaccine can give you confidence. In this month’s Matter of Health segment, Ucare Medical Director Dr. Scott Kammer shares more important advice.

TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE SPRING ALLERGIES

  • Avoid pollen or allergens
  • Limit outdoor activities
  • Keep home and car windows closed
  • Use central air conditioning
  • Wear a face mask outdoors
  • Wear sunglasses and hats for protection
  • Take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications
  • Consult your local pharmacist with questions

TIPS ON HOW TO FIGHT COVID-19

  • Wear a face mask
  •  Wash hands frequently
  • Social distance by at least 6 feet
  • Get a COVID-19 test
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine