COVID-19 vs. Allergies: How to Tell the Difference

Kenneth Knowles, MD
Medically reviewed by Kenneth Knowles, MDSeptember 29th, 2020
Senior coughing

Fall has arrived, and along with it comes seasonal allergies.

COVID-19 still continues to be a prominent illness throughout the country, though, so with every sneeze or cough, you may find yourself more on edge than in previous years. Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are similar, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them.

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

While many aspects of the changing seasons can trigger people’s allergies, one of the biggest agitators in the fall is ragweed, which blooms and releases pollen from August to November. So, throughout these months you may experience the following allergy symptoms:

  • A runny or stuffy nose, along with sneezing
  • A dry, persistent cough
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

According to the CDC, these can also potentially be symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, which can cause confusion and raise some concerns throughout the next few months of allergy season. There’s no need to panic, however, because we’ll give you some tips on differentiating the two.

Easy Ways to Rule Out COVID-19

Since allergies can be hereditary, many people experience them throughout their entire lives—this means that you would be quite familiar with the symptoms of allergies and recognize when you’re suffering from them. Lifetime allergy sufferers also know that spring and fall especially are times when they need to stock up on allergy medication. Even if your allergies are more sporadic, you should be able to rule out COVID-19 if you take allergy medication and immediately find some relief from your symptoms. Another major giveaway is if you experience the previously mentioned symptoms more severely after being outside, and they’re accompanied by itchy or watery eyes.

When to Consider COVID-19

Since allergies and COVID-19 both affect the lungs and throat, it’s understandable that you could possibly confuse the two. It’s even harder to diagnose yourself with the coronavirus because some patients are asymptomatic while others experience a full range of symptoms, including:

If you’ve never experienced seasonal allergies and find yourself suffering from some of the overlapping symptoms between allergies and COVID-19, you may want to consider getting tested.


In-Home COVID-19 Testing From DispatchHealth

If you suspect that you’ve contracted COVID-19, you should avoid walking into a medical clinic or doctor’s office without calling ahead or receiving pre-screening beforehand. To ensure that you don’t contribute towards the spread of the virus, you can turn to DispatchHealth for in-home testing. DispatchHealth is a well-established provider of in-home medical care, and we’ve expanded our urgent care services to better meet the needs of our patients during the COVID-19 crisis. We have fully equipped medical teams that can provide testing for COVID-19 and on-call treatment for COVID-19 symptoms and other health concerns, all in the safety and convenience of our patients’ homes. Tests are administered when our providers deem appropriate. Additionally, if you do not have COVID-19 but are reluctant to leave your home for allergy medication while the virus is still being spread, DispatchHealth is happy to help. We have much of the same equipment and medication that is found in emergency rooms, including antihistamines, so whether you’re experiencing seasonal allergies or a mild allergic reaction, you can call on our team to arrive promptly at your home.

COVID team at home

Whatever type of in-home medical care you’re seeking, scheduling a visit from DispatchHealth couldn’t be more simple. You can request care over the phone, on our app, or online, and our professionals will promptly arrive at your doorstep within a few hours. You can feel comfortable having us in your home as we take every measure to ensure the safety of our patients and medical staff, including wearing full protective gear and using thoroughly sanitized equipment. Plus, we accept most health insurances and often offer more affordable rates compared to typical urgent care clinics.

Whether you’re experiencing run-of-the-mill allergies or are worried that you’ve contracted COVID-19, DispatchHealth is here for you.

Request a visit today for prompt, in-home care.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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