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Allergies vs. Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

March 27, 2020
Allergies and Coronavirus Article

Spring is difficult for those suffering from seasonal allergies. The coronavirus (COVID-19) has added a whole new level of anxiety. A simple sneeze or cough can make people wonder whether it’s allergies or COVID-19.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island Allergist Louis Guida, MD, says there are some similarities between the two, but also some key differences that can help you tell them apart. Below he shares answers to frequently asked questions.

What are the similarities between allergies and COVID-19?

Dr. Guida: There are a few similarities between a person having seasonal allergies and COVID-19. The typical sneezing as well as seasonal nasal congestion with cough that is common in a truly allergic individual has also been reported in patients with COVID-19.

What are some of the differences between the two?

Dr. Guida: An allergic individual usually does not have a fever, aches and pains where an individual presenting with COVID-19 may.  Also, with allergies, one may experience a slight difficulty with smell and taste.  However, with COVID-19, individuals are experiencing total lack of smell and taste that comes on rapidly.  In general, those with allergies tend have more chronic, annoying symptoms, including but not limited to sneezing, wheezing and coughing. Allergic individuals complain of itchy, watery eyes and an itchy throat, not one that’s sore as with coronavirus, which is a result of upper nasal congestion.

If I have seasonal allergies, am I more at-risk for COVID-19?

Dr. Guida: Individuals with allergies are not immune to contracting COVID-19. However, allergic individuals are usually aware of how their allergies have presented in the past. If they are feeling different than their previous symptoms, and their allergy medication regimen is not helping, then they should consult their health care provider.  

Should I take any additional precautions against COVID-19 if I have asthma?

Dr. Guida: If you have asthma, make sure you are following the recommendations from your health care provider. I would advise caution if you use a nebulizer for your medications. You may want to use your metered dose inhaler instead, as to not promote aerosolized droplets into your immediate vicinity. This is especially true if you have already tested positive for COVID-19. 

Call 1-855-CHS-4500 for more information or to find an allergy expert. 

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the CHS coronavirus page.