Is it Allergy, Flu, Common Cold or COVID-19? Helping You Sort Out the Symptoms


Spring. It’s that time of year when environmental allergies kick up, the common cold and influenza still linger, and this year, the threat of COVID-19 is increasing just as vaccination efforts begin to take hold. Unfortunately, the symptoms for all of these maladies overlap, making a diagnosis tricky, especially during a pandemic when seeking prompt medical attention is important.

We found three resources especially helpful to help you understand the symptoms you might be experiencing.

COVID or Just Seasonal Allergies?

The Washington Post recently published an article “Is it covid or just allergies? Your questions about symptoms and vaccines, answered,” available free without a subscription, providing salient information especially for those that suffer from seasonal allergies. The article answers such questions as:

  • Does having allergies increase my risk of contracting COVID?
  • Should I be vaccinated against COVID if I have allergies?
  • How should I prepare for my vaccination?
  • I get regular allergy shots, how should I schedule my vaccine appointment?
  • Will my allergy medicine have an effect on my immune system’s response to the vaccine?
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First and foremost, the article answers the question “How do I know if it’s allergies or COVID?

According to Jody Tversky, Assistant Professor of Medicine and former Clinical Director of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Johns Hopkins University, one of the symptoms doctors often look for is the presence of fever, typically a temperature above 100.4°F.

“It would be very unusual for someone with nasal or sinus allergies to develop a fever,” Tversky says. “That just really doesn’t happen on exposure to allergens.”

Other symptoms commonly associated with viral infections include chills and body aches.

According to Ryan Steele, Board-Certified Allergist-Immunologist and Internist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Yale University, it is also unlikely that common allergies would cause you to suddenly lose your sense of smell and taste, another telltale sign of COVID.

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AAAAI Symptom Comparison Table

Another valuable resource is this table provided by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) comparing the common symptoms of COVID-19, seasonal allergies, flu, and the common cold:

Coronavirus Symptoms Chart Published by AAAAI.
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COVID-19 Symptom Explainer Video

Last but not least is this short video by the Washington Post summarizing the symptoms of COVID-19:

Consult Your Medical Professional

When in doubt or if you are experiencing severe symptoms, discuss with your doctor who may require additional tests to help arrive at a conclusive diagnosis and a plan of action.

Be Safe and Mask Up!

Regardless of the diagnosis or whether you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing whenever you leave your home. COVID-19 diagnoses are on the upswing and although the vaccines are extremely effective, no vaccine is 100% so.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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