It’s understandable that people with respiratory allergies and asthma have many questions about the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. 

Particularly, they want to know if they’re at an increased risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19 and how to tell the difference between their allergy and asthma symptoms and symptoms of COVID-19. 

Because COVID-19 shares some of the same symptoms as respiratory allergies and asthma, it’s important to know the difference. 

At Riviera Allergy Medical Center, allergy/immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner and our team want to keep everyone informed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so you can best care for yourself, including when to seek medical evaluation.

We’ve put together this helpful information about some of the key differences between COVID-19 symptoms and symptoms of respiratory allergies and asthma. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and we learn more, information may change. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a viral infection that can cause severe symptoms — even death. However, most cases of COVID-19 are mild and resolve without medical intervention with the proper rest and self-care.

COVID-19 is easily spread between individuals through droplets in the air from an infected person. The virus causes various symptoms, many of which affect the respiratory system. The most common symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste
  • Diarrhea

If you suspect that you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider. 

Respiratory allergy symptoms

Respiratory allergies aren’t contagious. They’re caused by proteins in the air that trigger an immune response when you breathe them in. Pet dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites are common respiratory allergens.

Common symptoms are:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath 

How do COVID-19 symptoms differ from allergy symptoms?

While some symptoms of respiratory allergies and COVID-19 overlap, nasal congestion and eye symptoms are associated with allergies and not COVID-19. Runny nose and sneezing are also less common in COVID-19. 

When trying to distinguish between allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms, it’s helpful to ask yourself the following:

Are your allergy symptoms normally well-controlled?

If your allergies are normally well-controlled and you experience a sudden or unexplained change in the control of your allergy symptoms, it’s wise to discuss it with Dr. Ziegner. 

Do you have symptoms not linked to allergies?

Symptoms such as fever, a change in your sense of taste and smell, and chills may point to a viral infection, such as COVID-19.

Are your symptoms typical for you?

Any symptoms that are unusual for you should be evaluated. 

Keep in mind that it’s possible to have allergy symptoms and COVID-19 at the same time. If your allergy symptoms seem different than usual, or if you have questions about your symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact us at Riviera Allergy Medical Center. 

It’s important to continue taking prescribed allergy medication and to continue managing your allergies as you normally would. 

Asthma and COVID-19

Having asthma is scary enough, so it’s only natural that the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies fear in patients with asthma. From what we know about the coronavirus, people with moderate to severe asthma may be at a higher risk of more severe COVID-19 symptoms if they contract the virus. 

COVID-19 may worsen your asthma symptoms, trigger asthma attacks, and lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease (ARD). ARD is particularly dangerous in older adults, children, and people with a compromised immune system. 

Regardless of age, ARD requires immediate medical attention. It’s important to do everything possible to reduce your risk of COVID-19 if you have a pre-existing condition that affects your respiratory system.

By now, everyone should be practicing habits that reduce the risk of getting COVID-19, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes:

  • Social distancing (staying at least six feet apart from others)
  • Avoiding nonessential travel
  • Wearing a mask or double mask
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Keeping surfaces clean 

Continue following your asthma action plan. Contact Dr. Ziegner if you’re having trouble managing your asthma symptoms or if your asthma symptoms have changed. Continue taking current medications, including any inhalers.

Call our Redondo Beach, California, office at 310-504-3242 to book an appointment with Dr. Ziegner. You can also send a message to Dr. Ziegner and the team here on our website.

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