Whitehouse Centers for Disease Control and Prevention US Department of Homeland Security - Federal Emergency Management Agency

What is the difference between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies?

COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19). Seasonal allergies triggered by airborne pollen can lead to seasonal allergic rhinitis, which affects the nose and sinuses, and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis, which affects the eyes.

COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share many symptoms, but there are some key differences between the two. For example, COVID-19 can cause fever, which is not a common symptom of seasonal allergies.

Symptoms more common of COVID-19

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms more common of seasonal allergies

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing

Symptoms common of both

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. (Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, unless a person has a respiratory condition such as asthma that can be triggered by exposure to pollen.)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose

Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are similar, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them, and you may need to get a test to confirm your diagnosis.

This is not a complete list of all possible symptoms of COVID-19 or seasonal allergies. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. You can have symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies at the same time.

If you think you have COVID-19, follow CDC’s guidance on “What to do if you are sick.” If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Get more information on COVID-19 symptoms, or more information on seasonal allergy symptoms.

Last updated October 30, 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Preventionlinks to external site

See also: Symptoms and testing