Knowing the difference between allergies, COVID-19

Flowers, trees, and grass are all in beautiful bloom, but it's not so beautiful if someone in your family suffers from allergies.  It's  especially concerning, because some of the symptoms mimic those of coronavirus.

Caroline Whyte was convinced she had COVID-19.

"Scratchy throat, difficulty breathing, headache, and then the paranoia kicks in," she said.

It turned out her symptoms, like many, were actually allergies.  They are at their peak for people of all ages in April.

"I feel like I get an itchy nose, not so much a runny nose," said April Dittmer, "and so like obviously right now, any time you have itchiness, it's annoying because you don't want to be touching your face."

It's something  ear, nose, and throat Dr. Arash Moradzadeh deals with personally.

"I'm an allergy-sufferer but I'm also having to go to the hospital and see patients. So sometimes I’ll get the sore throat, I'll get the congestion and I'm like, 'Am I getting coronavirus or is this allergies?' So it's something that even I've struggled with trying to distinguish sometimes."

So how do you know if someone in your family suffering from allergies or coronavirus?

"If you're a younger, healthy person and you're getting one of the more cases of coronavirus, the symptoms might actually be identical. But an easy way to differentiate is if you take an allergy pill or you use an allergy nose spray. If you feel some relief, it's allergies. If your symptoms remain the same, then it's probably more likely to be coronavirus and something to discuss with your doctor," Dr. Moradzadeh explained.

He said over-the-counter allergy medicines like Allegra or Zyrtec are safe.

"The nasal steroid sprays like such as Flonase, which is the most common one that's over the counter, the dosage is very, very weak. So you don't need to be worried about the steroids in nose sprays. It's the oral steroids such as prednisone which you would be prescribed by a physician or the inject-able ones that we're trying to limit a little bit in your use because those can lower the strength of your immune system."

The bottom line is, if you don’t see relief from over-the-counter allergy medicines, call your family doctor, and if you have someone in your family with asthma, make sure they are washing their hands often and keeping their inhaler close by.