Spring allergies combined with COVID concerns: What to watch for

Some allergy symptoms can overlap with COVID-19

Spring is in the air, leaving many people battling allergies. But how do you know the difference between allergy symptoms and the early onset of COVID-19? Dr. McGeorge explains.

More than 50 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.

But the sniffles and sneezes are much more problematic in the context of the pandemic.

I have frequently heard people who tested positive for COVID say they initially wrote off the early symptoms as allergies. That said, millions of people truly are suffering from just allergies, making this is a very challenging time of year.

Spring is in the air, literally.

“Here we go with our next several months of pollen season,” said Dr. Flavia Hoyte, allergist and immunologist.

The best advice is to tackle your allergies early before the symptoms start.

“The idea there is really to get ahead of the inflammation and not let it start up so you’re not chasing your tail throughout the season,” said Hoyte.

Hoyte said seasonal allergy symptoms do not appear to put a person at higher risk for more severe COVID-19. But when airways are inflamed, you’re less able to clear viruses in general.

“The lower inflammation in the airway, the better the airway can function and part of the functioning is clearing anything that comes in the nose and needs to get pushed back out,” she said.

Some allergy symptoms can overlap with COVID-19, so you need to be aware of your symptoms and differences from prior years.

“If you have any new symptoms or symptoms that feel weird, different, more severe than normal, certainly we can help guide you through understanding if this is allergies or if this is COVID-19,” said Hoyte.

Allergy symptoms will trigger a red flag on many COVID screening apps or other protocols. So don’t be surprised if a child’s school or your workplace asks for a note to verify that you have allergies, not COVID.

Allergy symptoms also can mask early COVID symptoms. So if you have symptoms that are different than usual, don’t hesitate to go get a COVID test to be sure.


About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.