I'm not even kidding when I say that every time I sneeze or cough, I wonder if it's COVID-19 or just allergies. This is the question lots of people have been asking since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020. Maybe this can clear that up.

Spring allergies can be a real issue with many folks. Here in central Texas is seems like allergy season lasts all year. I didn't know how allergic to anything I was until I got here in the summer of 2017. Once I settled in, I realized that I was always sneezing, had watery eyes and felt congested, and had a headache when I was outside. I went to get tested and it turned out that I was allergic to a type of grass. Oh, and I found out I was allergic to cats too.

Some of these allergy symptoms are also signs of COVID-19 - sore throat, headache/body aches, cough/congestion - and since the pandemic hit in the early spring of 2020, every time my wife or I would feel these symptoms, we would ask ourselves the obvious question: is it allergies or COVID?

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We actually talked about this back in January when cedar fever was starting to peak and one of our employees was absolutely miserable . He was worried that he may have been exposed to the 'rona. As with grass and other allergies, cedar fever and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms. We even shared a handy Venn diagram that was put together by the Texas A&M Forest Service showing the overlap and the differences in hopes of putting minds at ease.

Texas A&M Forest Service
Texas A&M Forest Service

I saw this recent article from KCEN that addresses the similarity between allergies and COVID-19 symptoms as well.

Maria Aguilera talked with Kris Bartee from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. He said to look around you at all the plants in bloom and the pollen accumulating on your car. Allergy season is very much upon us. Also, he says, keep in mind that grass is going to be pollinating soon and keeping that going all summer.


The good news is that Bartee says you may already be doing something that's helping: wearing a mask. That can filter out some of the pollen that could make you feel sick.

Check out the full KCEN article here. It's a good read.

So let's revisit our original question: how do you know if it's allergies or COVID-19?

According to American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, typical allergy symptoms include runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath and a cough plus, rashes, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and fever

The CDC says typical signs of COVID-19 are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea plus more.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and not sure if it's allergy or COVID related, call your doctor.

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