Sorting out symptoms: Fall allergies or COVID-19

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It hits you in an instant, and when it does, you know exactly what it is when allergies strike.

It’s the tickle in the back of your throat, the relentless sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.

For so many who suffer from allergies, the symptoms can feel constant. For 6-year-old Braden Chase, they can be brutal.

“He’s had allergies since he was a baby, I’m talking like 1 month old, he’s had issues with allergies, said mom Heather Carlisle, of Tampa, Florida.

She says her son struggles daily.

“They’re very bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, they’re probably at 11,” Carlisle said.

She said watching her child suffer from severe allergy symptoms during a pandemic has been a nerve-racking experience, especially when he sneezes or coughs in public.

She says people start openly shaming him, thinking he’s infected with COVID-19.

“They’ll back away a little bit,” Carlisle explained. “He always has on a mask anyway. You can definitely tell people are like, ‘I heard you cough and sneeze’ because it seems like the symptoms of coronavirus. It’s a laundry list of symptoms, and you don’t know what it could be.”

Coronavirus and allergy symptoms can be similar, but Dr. Paul Nanda, the chief medical officer for TGH Urgent Care Centers in the Tampa Bay area, says there’s one major symptom that sets them apart – fever.

“The two most common symptoms of COVID are fever and cough,” Nanda said. “It is a challenging time for a kid. It is a challenging time for a parent. It is a challenging time for everybody right now.”

While allergies can make you cough, Nanda said that’s usually due to postnasal drip. A COVID cough, he explained, is deep in the lungs and persistent.

Because of the similarities in symptoms, sufferers may need to be tested to confirm a diagnosis, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe,” the CDC states. “You can have symptoms of both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies at the same time.”

Nanda advises people with concerns about symptoms to contact their physician.

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