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Allergies vs. COVID-19 symptoms

Posted at 10:22 AM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 12:03:14-04

INDIANAPOLIS — May and June are typically when allergies are the worst here in Indiana, and with the COVID-19 pandemic heightening your awareness of changes in your health, RTV6 found out some of the major differences in symptoms.

"About 15 to 30% of our population is allergic in one form or another... it's very common," Dr. Mason Goodman, a pulmonologist at Ascension St. Vincent, said.

Dr. Goodman says the most noticeable symptoms of allergies are sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, sinus, and congestions. People with allergies can also experience a dry cough.

A fever, however, is a common COVID-19 symptom that is not associated with seasonal allergies.

"One of the things besides fever that is common in people that exhibit COVID-19 is cough, and that is usually dry and nonproductive and doesn't have sputum associated with that," Dr. Goodman said. "A sore throat that is usually more intense than what is seen in allergies is also usually present. Shortness of breath, especially with activity, is a big issue as well, and multiple body aches and pain and fatigue are also present as well."

Gastrointestinal issues have also been reported as a COVID-19 symptom, something you won't experience from your typical allergies. And as far as allergy sufferers being more susceptible or having a more severe case of COVID-19.

"Probably somebody that has what is called 'seasonal pollinosis' meaning that they have problems that occur only in particular seasons, spring, fall or whatever... probably that is not a terribly large risk factor for more severe problems with coronavirus," Dr. Goodman said.

About half of people who have allergies have an asthma-related response. Dr. Goodman says those with asthmatic issues may be more susceptible to severe problems with coronavirus.