How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19


Spring has officially sprung, which means warmer weather, fresh blooms and the start of seasonal allergies.

This year in particular, symptoms associated with allergies can be particularly concerning. Unfortunately, coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms can often look similar to many other conditions, including seasonal allergies, leaving many people questioning how to tell the difference.

In today's world, any common symptom of COVID-19 can cause increasing anxiety. "Symptoms such as congestion, sore throat and loss of smell are all common with both seasonal allergies and COVID-19", says Dr. Johnathan Matz, M.D., an allergist and immunologist with LifeBridge Health. While there may be similarities in symptoms, understanding the differences is important.

Matz says the easiest way to differentiate the symptoms is based on your previous allergy history. "We're not getting much concern from people who have seasonal allergies because their symptoms are predictable year to year", says Matz. So, if your runny rose and sore throat is consistent during this time of year, you are probably in the clear.

Besides the predictability behind seasonal allergies, there are other signs to look for. Matz says that allergies typically come with an itch in the throat or nose, which is not consistent with symptoms of COVID-19. Another symptom to look out for is fever, which is typically an indicator of COVID-19 versus allergies.

While it can be possible to differentiate your own symptoms, visible symptoms can often leave the people around you uncomfortable. As re-openings begin, many have found it difficult to go back to school or the office without concern of others with symptoms. "Where I am seeing concern is with students coming back to school in person," says Matz. "Many school nurses and teachers are seeing kids with these symptoms and telling them to stay home, even when it is just allergies." He recommends that if you are experiencing these concerns from teachers or peers to talk to an allergist and get documentation.

Whether you are experiencing seasonal allergy or COVID-19 symptoms, thoroughly assessing your symptoms is necessary. At the end of the day, if you are unsure about your symptoms and are not feeling well, it is best to go get tested. "If you're having these symptoms and you have never had allergies before, that is COVID until proven otherwise," says Matz. Concerns over these symptoms will continue to grow during this season, but knowing how to tell the differences between the two is an important step in keeping everyone safe and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

For information about scheduling an appointment with a physician and all other LifeBridge Health services, including specialty care and community events, please visit or call 410-601-WELL.