Allergies or coronavirus? Doctors explain how to make a difference – National


It’s spring, and in much of Canada it’s the start of the allergy season. But this year, people with allergies may be more anxious than usual, wondering if their sniffles are allergies or the start of a new coronavirus infection.

“It’s different from place to place, but here in Ontario, we have already started the tree pollen season,” said Dr. Susan Waserman, allergist and professor of medicine at McMaster University.

People sensitive to tree pollen may already be starting to experience symptoms, she said.

Fortunately, however, it is possible to distinguish between allergy symptoms and COVID-19.

Healthy lifestyle: seasonal allergies with Kelly Kizlyk

Healthy lifestyle: seasonal allergies with Kelly Kizlyk

With allergies, “it runs from the nose, sneezing, itchy nose, itchy watery eyes, congestion,” said Dr. Anne Ellis, professor and chair of the division of allergies at the medical school of Queen’s University.

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“For some people who get postnasal gout, there is a mild cough associated with it. “

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COVID-19, as a viral infection, would have symptoms that you wouldn’t normally see with allergies, said Ellis.

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While it may give you some upper respiratory symptoms, such as a cough, its most distinctive symptoms don’t usually occur with allergies, said Ellis.

“Fever, muscle aches and pains, usually feeling completely wiped out, it would be a characteristic that you could have a viral infection. “

Waserman also pointed to fever as a distinguishing symptom.

“You don’t see a fever with an allergic disease, so it’s a distinguishing feature,” said Waserman.

“You may have sneezing in COVID, but at the end of the day, the main things you are looking for are fever, cough, a lot of fatigue, and ultimately difficulty breathing in those with more serious illness. “

There are also viruses other than COVID-19, such as colds and flu, that can cause symptoms, said Waserman.

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Ellis and Waserman also note that if you normally experience symptoms of allergies at this time of the year and experience the same symptoms this spring, chances are it’s just your regular seasonal allergy coming back.

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“If you’ve had allergies before, and they seem to be doing exactly the same thing as last year, then it’s probably your allergies and it’s probably not COVID-19 in disguise,” said Ellis.

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Also, if you take your usual allergy medications and your symptoms go away, this is probably a very good indication that they are allergies.

“You would not expect a viral infection of some sort to respond to an antihistamine,” she said.

If, however, you still think you have COVID-19, Ellis recommends that you contact a health care provider. If your symptoms are mild, depending on where you are, you may not end up getting tested, but you will have to isolate yourself until you feel well, she said.

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