Spotting the difference between spring allergies and COVID-19 symptoms

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Saturday is the first day of spring. But if you suffer from allergies, you probably don't need a calendar to tell you that.

And this year, in the midst of a pandemic spring allergy symptoms can be worrisome because many of the signs can also be signs of the coronavirus.

"It's definitely at the front of people's minds," said allergist Dr. Manav Segal from the Chestnut Hill Allergy and Asthma Associates.

He said there is more concern about allergies this season and as symptoms pop up, people want to make sure it is not COVID-19.

While many symptoms are the same, there are key differences. Itching of the eyes, nose and throat is more likely allergies, high temperature or anything affecting the whole body is not.

"Fever is not part of allergy symptoms, if you are having severe headache or body aches or muscle aches and pains, those are more consistent with a viral illness than seasonal allergies," said Dr. Segal.

And if this time of year, when the trees come to life is usually when you have allergy symptoms. If it's the same symptoms, it's likely the same culprit.

"People are going to start experiencing symptoms soon if they haven't already," he said.

Dr. Segal said to expect a bad allergy season this spring based on trends we're seeing with warmer weather coming earlier.

And this year, another reason to get your symptoms under control?

"Another thing that is really, really stressful is being out in public, having a runny nose, being congested, coughing, knowing that you have allergies, but the people around you aren't going to recognize that that's the issue," he said.

In order to prevent symptoms, Dr. Segal said if you typically take allergy medications, start taking it early before you have symptoms.

He also said to avoid pollen when you can and close windows and change your clothes when you come in from outside. Masks can also help by blocking out virus particles as well as to help block pollen.
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