Is Your Runny Nose Allergies or COVID-19? | Whittier, CA | PIH Health

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Published on March 21, 2022

Is Your Runny Nose Allergies or COVID-19?

Photo of a woman sneezing into a tissue while someone behind her as someone behind her holds up a small dogIt can be difficult at this time of year to determine what’s causing your symptoms.

Early spring typically ushers in a lot of sniffling, sneezing and wheezing from seasonal allergies. You may assume these symptoms are due to the pollen in the air. But COVID-19 is still circulating, and many symptoms of the virus are relatively mild and resemble seasonal allergies. That can make it hard to tell what your symptoms are coming from. Is it your usual seasonal allergy kicking into gear? Or do you have COVID-19?

Some symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 are very similar. These include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus pressure
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of allergies that are not often seen in people with COVID-19 include:

  • Watery, itchy or red eyes
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat

Symptoms that are more likely due to COVID-19 than allergies include:

  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Keep in mind that you can have seasonal allergies and COVID-19 at the same time. This adds to the difficulty of figuring out what’s causing your symptoms because you may just assume symptoms are caused by your allergies. Symptoms can also be caused by the common cold or a flu virus.

If you are not sure what’s causing your symptoms or you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, it’s a good idea to get tested. If you can’t easily find a test, stay home and isolate yourself from others until you know for sure that you don’t have COVID-19. This makes it less likely you’ll spread the virus to others in case you have it.

If you test negative for COVID-19 and find that your allergy symptoms are still disrupting your daily life, here are some tips from Puja Shrestha MD, a PIH Health Internal Medicine physician at our Los Alamitos Medical Office Building.

  • Visit your local pharmacy and buy over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, and decongestants
  • Avoid exposure to allergens where possible, for instance, avoid going outside on a windy day
  • Try a saline nasal rinse to cleanse the nose
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if possible
  • Use a mask if you go outside

Visit Dr. Shrestha’s physician profile to learn more about her or call 562.904.4475.

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The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.