Distinguishing Between Asthma, Allergies, and COVID-19

Here in Florida, our year-round warm weather translates into a prolonged, more severe allergy season than the rest of the United States, with grass and mold pollen allergies extending from May through December. Whereas allergy symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, would normally be no more than a minor irritation, the rise of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to heightened anxiety regarding any number of symptoms. 

Many Americans are left wondering whether their cough may be a sign of asthma, allergies, or worse, COVID-19. In this brief article, Ravikanth Vydyula, M.D., a board-certified lung doctor in Wesley Chapel, explains how you can determine whether your cough is a result of asthma, allergies, or COVID-19. 

Related: What People With Pre-Existing Lung Conditions Should Know About the Coronavirus

Symptoms of COVID-19 vs. Symptoms of Asthma

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that, although certain symptoms of asthma and COVID-19 may overlap, people with asthma are not at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Your chance of contracting the virus is only associated with your exposure to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in others. That being said, it’s crucial to understand what may be the cause behind the symptoms you are experiencing.

Typical symptoms of COVID-19, which appear anywhere from two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus, include fever, muscle pain, chills, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. While asthma can lead to shortness of breath and coughing, it doesn’t typically cause fever or muscle pain. Furthermore, COVID-19 is not typically associated with wheezing, a common symptom of asthma. 

Related: Managing Your Asthma Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 vs. Symptoms of Allergies

Unfortunately for chronic allergy sufferers, several symptoms of seasonal allergies overlap with symptoms of COVID-19, including headache, sore throat, cough, and even the loss of smell. Where COVID-19 and seasonal allergies largely differ is that sneezing and nasal congestion like that experienced by seasonal allergy sufferers is generally not associated with COVID-19. Additionally, the aches and pains associated with COVID-19 are absent with allergies. 

Lastly, perhaps the most noticeable difference between the two are the itchy symptoms — itchy nose and itchy eyes. If you are experiencing any form of itchy sinuses, then your symptoms are most likely caused by seasonal allergies rather than COVID-19. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop being vigilant. If you have a cough that is not responding to allergy medications or develop an accompanying fever, it’s imperative to contact your health care provider as soon as possible. 

The Bottom Line

Although there is some overlap between the symptoms of asthma, seasonal allergies, and COVID-19, there are key differences you can use to differentiate between the three conditions. Maintaining your daily health routine and keeping any underlying conditions, such as asthma, under control are crucial to staying safe during these uncertain times. If you have any concerns regarding whether your symptoms are indicative of COVID-19, seasonal allergies, asthma, or a combination of the three, contact a lung doctor in Wesley Chapel today.


To schedule a consultation with Ravikanth Vydyula, M.D. regarding asthma treatment in Wesley Chapel please request an appointment today.

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