Allergies vs. COVID: Here’s What You Need to Know

A young woman with curly brown hair sits on her gray sofa and blows her nose with a tissue.


As summer begins to wind down for many, and school is back in session, knowing the difference between allergies vs. COVID is more important than ever.

While seasonal allergies are often thought of as a springtime nuisance, they can affect anyone at any time of year and are often most prevalent during seasonal shifts due to natural weather changes in the air.

With many of us back to in-person work and learning, it is essential to be mindful of your symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus. Testing is the best way to stop the spread to others.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 60% of the population has been infected with the virus.

Although vaccines and herd immunity have helped reduce the spread and severity of symptoms, contracting COVID-19 is still quite common, especially for school-aged children.

The good news is that there are some distinguishing differences between allergies and COVID-19. One of the most significant differences is the symptoms you may experience.

Let’s explore COVID-19 and seasonal allergies in more detail, including exactly what they are, how they’re caused, their symptoms, and exactly how to diagnose and treat them.

What Is COVID-19?

As most everyone is aware, COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease in the coronavirus family made up of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

For most, symptoms range from mild to moderate. In rare cases, it may cause severe symptoms that can lead to death, especially for immunocompromised patients or those with underlying health conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, or chronic lung disease.

COVID is spread from one person to another through liquid particles that linger in the air from coughing, sneezing, talking, singing, or simply breathing.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

In the most basic terms, allergies of any kind are an immune system’s overreaction to an allergen. Allergies can be seasonal and year-round.

Seasonal allergies are often caused by allergens found in the air, such as ragweed or pollen.

Year-round allergies can be caused by seasonal allergy triggers but are often caused by outside factors, including mold exposure and pet dander.

People may experience both types of allergies. It is important to note that an allergy can begin at any age. A person does not have to be allergic to something for a lifetime in order for it to trigger an immune response.

If you experience allergies often, we recommend getting an allergy test to determine exactly what allergen is causing your flare ups.

Allergies vs. COVID Symptoms

Explore the list below to differentiate allergy symptoms from COVID-19 symptoms.

Symptoms COVID-19 Allergies
Chills Usually Never
Fever Usually Never
Itchy/Scratchy Throat No Yes
Body Aches Usually Rarely
Shortness of Breath Yes Sometimes
Sore Throat Sometimes Sometimes
Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea Sometimes Never
Loss of Smell Usually Rarely
Wheezing Sometimes Sometimes
Headache Sometimes Sometimes
Nasal Congestion Sometimes Usually
Runny Nose Rarely Usually
Sneezing Sometimes Usually
Itchy/Watery Eyes Never Usually
Dry Cough Usually Sometimes


The Major Differences

More likely than not you are experiencing allergy symptoms if

  • Your eyes are often itchy and watery
  • Your symptoms worsen in certain situations or seasons of the year
  • You’ve had your symptoms for 1-2 weeks or longer, and they remain at the same severity level
  • Symptoms subside when you’re not exposed to a known allergen

You may be infected with the COVID-19 virus if

  • You have a fever
  • You are experiencing painful body aches that last several days
  • You’re extremely fatigued
  • You’ve lost your sense of taste or smell
  • You have a cough

Allergies vs. COVID: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Two of the main differences between allergies and COVID are how they’re diagnosed and treated.

Allergies are diagnosed by a skin prick test, while a nasal swab test diagnoses COVID-19.

COVID Treatment

Instead of taking a specific medication to help with the virus as a whole, patients who test positive focus on symptom management and mitigation by using

  • Fever reducers
  • OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and decongestants
  • Throat lozenges
  • OTC saline nasal drops, or spray
  • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier

As with other respiratory viruses, it is essential to get adequate rest and ample hydration.

Most patients heal on their own with the help of the above-listed medications 7 to 14 days after a positive test.

Medical intervention, prescription medication, and hospitalization may be necessary in severe cases.

If you are currently experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, visit your nearest urgent care or emergency room now.

Allergy Treatment

Similar to COVID-19, there is not one specific treatment option to cure allergies.

Treatment for allergies is based on your particular triggering allergen and symptoms and may include

  • OTC antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal sprays

Some of the best ways to reduce symptoms are by

  • Avoiding the allergen
  • Wearing a mask when outside or exposed to the allergen
  • Modifying indoor spaces to keep allergens out
  • Washing your hair and face after exposure or after time outdoors

Rapid COVID-19 Tests Are Here!

Although many COVID–19 and allergy cases heal on their own, we encourage you to stop by urgent care for testing if you have symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

At State Urgent Care, we want to get you answers to your symptoms quickly. We are open seven days a week, with no appointments necessary, and offer rapid COVID testing.

Simply walk in and get your rapid PCR COVID test. It’s time to start feeling better today.