Allergic Rhinitis or COVID-19: How to tell the difference?

From a sudden sneeze and consecutive coughs that feel usual to chilling fevers and severe body pains that strike every cell in your body, the overlapping symptoms between allergic rhinitis and coronavirus seem to cause unnecessary fear among people nowadays.

Since sniffles and coughs are already considered as a precursor to COVID-19, innocent allergy sufferers have become used to cold-eyed stares. To draw the line, The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) stressed key differences between the two to help everyone get a clearer picture of what ails them.


It is the result of the body’s immune system overreacting to external factors like pollen, dust mites, mold, and animals. Once triggered, those who have it experience a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, cough, post-nasal drip, and itchy water eyes.

Health professionals usually suggest taking antihistamine medication. If the symptoms improve by using allergy medication, then you’re likely reacting to allergy. However, if antihistamines failed to control your symptoms, then you should seek further help.


COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Almost six months ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic due to its widespread transmission.

The most common symptoms that develop between two to 14 days after exposure to the virus are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Body aches.

If home care and self-quarantine measures didn’t work and you still have COVID-19-like symptoms, you must submit yourself to testing immediately after several days of isolation.


While there are identical symptoms between allergies and COVID-19, the CDC said the huge differences between the two help us identify our sickness.

“For example, COVID-19 can cause fever, which is not a common symptom of seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies, meanwhile, do not usually cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing,” said the CDC.

Itch is a common symptom of allergies but is not typical of COVID-19. COVID-19 usually infects patients with high fever, but hay fever, despite its name, does not increase body temperature.

As for coughing, you might want to check how frequently you are wheezing. A new continuous cough is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19 yet the same can also happen to hay fever. But if you’re having difficulty breathing, then you really should get in touch with a doctor.

Itchy, watery eyes and nose? That’s typical of allergic rhinitis. However, people have to be careful since this symptom will make them more inclined to touch their faces. And facing touching is one of the ways you can catch coronavirus.

By washing your hands, cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, and practicing social distancing in a time of the pandemic, we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in case you may have unknowingly acquired it.

After all, the risk of transmission will significantly decrease if everyone wears a mask in public spaces.


The information presented on AllergyKB is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Our knowledge base website is for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website. We highly urge everyone to always seek the advice of their physician or other qualified health providers.

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