World Allergy Week 2020: How to distinguish between seasonal allergies and Covid-19 symptoms

Updated on Jul 01, 2020 08:58 AM IST

World Allergy Week: The pandemic has the entire world under lockdown and has instilled fear and panic into the hearts of all people, to such an extent the general public is often misunderstanding and confusing the symptoms for COVID-19 and general allergies.

(Representational image)(Unsplash)
(Representational image)(Unsplash)
Hindustan Times, Delhi |

We have not experienced such unpredictable times in quite a few years and the novel coronavirus has disrupted all sense of normalcy. The pandemic has the entire world under lockdown and has instilled fear and panic to such an extent the general public is often misunderstanding and confusing the symptoms for COVID-19 and general allergies.

“In general, they might present as similar especially during the flu and allergy season. “Due to the ongoing pandemic, symptoms such as cold, fever, body ache are immediately associated with the coronavirus infection. With the changing weather, common cold, seasonal allergies, vector-borne and other infectious diseases are on the rise. It is imperative to understand the distinguishing symptoms so that we can keep fear and anxiety at bay.” says Mumbai based Dr. Samir Bhargava, President of Association of Otolaryngologists of India (AOI).

The theme for World Allergy Week, starting June 28 to July 4, is ‘Allergy care does not stop with COVID-19’. The World Allergy Organization (WAO) is addressing the people about how to better understand and distinguish between the symptoms of COVID-19 and common allergies.

Common allergy symptoms such as coughing, and a sore throat are characteristic of the coronavirus, but the following information can prevent you from coming to a hasty conclusion. When in doubt, the best thing to do is to contact your doctors without delay.

“Frequenting hospitals during this time, could not always be easy given the limited public transport and the guidelines laid down for social distancing. In case you experience symptoms, the first thing to do is not jump to conclusions. It is important to get your hands on credible information, reading material that can help you understand your symptoms. Doctors can diagnose your issue and send you the prescription over the phone. Over-the-counter medications that can be purchased online, will be prescribed from case to case basis, depending on the severity. There are number of drugs such as antihistamines, intra-nasal-cortico steroid spray and decongestants that may make it easier to breathe when you get an allergy attack.” says Dr Gayatri Pandit, ENT consultant at Samarth ENT and Allergy Centre, Bangalore.

In case of contamination, this information may save your life and protect others around you from getting infected. Here is how you can distinguish between the symptoms of Covid-19 and allergies:

Time Duration

The symptoms of coronavirus can take from 7 to 25 days to manifest, whereas allergies can last for several weeks depending on the pollen in the air at any given time.


Coronavirus symptoms manifest with a dry cough but it is exceedingly rare to have a cough due to allergies. Unless triggered by asthma.

Shortness of Breath

Considering coronavirus targets the respiratory system, shortness of breath is a common symptom while this is not the case with allergies.


The COVID-19 virus does not cause sneezing, however it is fairly common in allergies.

Running/Stuffy Nose

A runny nose is a rare symptom for the coronavirus but a common one for allergies.

Sore throat

Both the coronavirus and allergies can manifest symptoms of a sore throat but in the case of allergies, it is fairly mild.


People infected with coronavirus can show symptoms of fever for many days, whereas while suffering from allergies people do not usually get fevers.


It is common to feel uncharacteristically tried while experiencing the symptoms of both coronavirus and allergies.


Coronavirus symptoms can result in headaches sometimes but are uncommon in allergies unless triggered by sinus pains.

Body aches

Coronavirus can result in body aches but you won’t experience body aches while suffering from allergies.


People infected with coronavirus can also suffer diarrhoea but not during allergies.

“The key to managing allergies during COVID-19 is understanding its symptoms and more so taking precautions to ensure you stay healthy in these unprecedented times. It is important to take charge of your allergies and not treat it as trivial. Allergies must be considered serious and important and immediate action must be taken to control them. Understanding your triggers is important, it will help you know which allergens are causing the problem and thus you can take precautions accordingly. Understanding allergies is crucial so that you can avoid and stay clear of them.” says Dr Jagdish Chinnappa, Consultant Pediatrician with special interest in Pulmonology and ENT at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.

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