When symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, and sneezing strike, it’s normal to wonder — is it allergies or COVID-19? This question becomes a little more complicated for the millions of allergy sufferers across the country. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 are evolving. It’s important to know if your symptoms are related to COVID-19 or allergies so you can get the appropriate treatment. Here at Riviera Allergy Center in Redondo Beach, California, you can rely on the expertise of allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner to help you distinguish your symptoms and implement the right treatment. 

Here are some ways to tell if you have allergies, a cold or the flu, or if you should come in and see us for a COVID-19 test.

COVID-19 overview

The symptoms of COVID-19 are quite diverse, depending on the variant. Furthermore, people who have been vaccinated but have a breakthrough infection may exhibit different symptoms than those who have not been vaccinated. 

COVID-19 infections can now cause symptoms ranging from asymptomatic to mild upper or lower respiratory symptoms to severe pneumonia. If there is any suspicion of COVID-19 infection, we advise early testing. 

Treatment with monoclonal antibodies can be effective, but only if COVID-19 is detected early via a COVID-19 test. The majority of the COVID-19 PCR tests and rapid antigen tests available can detect the current circulating variants.

Contact our team or go to an urgent care center if you have a non-emergency health concern where you can be examined and diagnosed for treatment. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe.


Allergy symptoms also range from mild to severe and can occur seasonally or all year. Allergies are caused by your immune system overreacting to everyday things in your environment, such as pollen, dust, mold, and pet dander. 

Medications alleviate symptoms, and allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots) can often provide long-term relief.

Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Wheezing

If you have seasonal allergies, you should start your medication prior to allergy season for the best benefit. 


The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a viral illness spread through coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact. Symptoms typically appear up to 14 days after exposure and resolve mostly within 14 days, depending on whether the symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. 

It’s important to note that even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you can still get COVID-19. Symptoms are often milder in those who have been vaccinated. 

Common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Problems breathing
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of smell
  • Headache

In addition, sneezing is the fourth most commonly reported symptom, according to a study conducted by researchers.

Allergies vs COVID-19: key factors

While many symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 overlap, such as having a runny nose and sneezing, suspicion is increased if you also experience fever, intense body aches, nausea, or vomiting. 

On the other hand, if you have symptoms such as watery, itchy eyes and sneezing that are alleviated when taking allergy medication, then it’s more likely you’re dealing with an allergy flare up.

To complicate matters, patients with asthma who also have allergies may experience coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. 

If you have symptoms of concern, Dr. Ziegner can review your patient history and discuss your symptoms to distinguish between COVID-19 and allergies. Schedule an appointment or send us a message on our website.

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