Dr. William Reisacher, Professor and Director of allergy services at Weill Cornell Medicine, explains how to identify the warning signs of COVID early.
How do the symptoms of COVID-19 differ from the symptoms of allergies?
With a viral illness like COVID-19, there is typically a fever, which is not present with allergies. Allergies to pollen cause sneezing and itchiness in the eyes, nose and throat. This is less common of COVID-19. Cough is a common symptom of COVID-19, but could also be present in some patients with allergies. Sudden loss of smell or taste, without significant nasal symptoms, also point to COVID-19.
Here’s another difference between COVID-19 and allergies: With allergies, the symptoms tend to wax and wane and get worse when you are outside. With a viral infection, there’s typically a steady worsening.
Do the symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 express themselves differently in children than in adults?
Kids with allergies tend to be restless, while adults who have allergies are more fatigued. If a child is lethargic and feverish and has a persistent cough, with or without itchy eyes and a runny nose, then the pediatrician should be notified.
Are people with allergies more susceptible to coronavirus than others are?
At this point, there is no evidence that people with allergies are more susceptible to COVID-19. While people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, people with allergies don’t have a compromised immune system; their allergies are actually an overreaction of the immune system.
That said, among people with some degree of asthma, those with worse disease tend to be in a higher-risk group for viral infections, particularly if the asthma is not well managed. So this is a good time to review the way you are managing your allergies – and your asthma, if you have it. You and your doctor can go over the ways you are managing your condition and make any modifications if needed.