Allergies or COVID-19: Doctor explains the difference

Allergies or COVID-19: Doctor explains the difference

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - When it comes to seasonal allergies or COVID-19, one Northeast Arkansas doctor says, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

Spring in Region 8 means leaves budding on the trees, the smell of freshly mown grass, and cars tinted green with pollen.

This time of year, according to a news release from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, pollen counts reach the high to very high levels throughout the state and the Mid-South.

With it comes an increase in sinus and respiratory problems.

Now that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, how does one tell the difference between allergies and COVID-19?

Dr. Shane Speights, DO and dean of NYITCOM at A-State, says those who typically experience sinus problems this time of year should not be alarmed.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” he said. “If you always get affected by seasonal allergies during this time and you’re having the same symptoms, that’s probably what it is.”

One of the telltale ways to differentiate between allergies and the coronavirus is a high fever.

Fever, Speights said, is not consistent with allergic reactions to pollen.

Muscle aches, fatigue, and shortness of breath are common symptoms of COVID-19 but not of the common cold that is often brought on by seasonal allergies.

“You shouldn’t run a fever with your allergies,” Speights said. “You shouldn’t have significant muscle aches or significant fatigue with your allergies. Typically, COVID-19 doesn’t cause sneezing. It can, but that’s not a typical sign or symptom we would see.”

Also, he said COVID-19 patients typically have a “dry” cough that does not produce mucus while those with allergies often have a “wet” cough which does.

Unless it is a sinus infection, which can be accompanied by a fever, Speights said people should treat their allergies with antihistamines and over-the-counter medications as they would normally.

“It’s understandable that people would be concerned and confused,” Speights said. “If you have a fever, you should contact your health care provider. Otherwise, continue to be diligent in your efforts to keep those around you healthy and address your allergies as you do most years.”

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