Allergies? Just the Flu? Or do I have COVID-19? How the Symptoms Differ

It’s springtime and the pollen count is high.  Plus the flu season is still going strong.  These days when we sneeze, we wonder, “Do I have COVID 19?” Or is it just allergies?  Or seasonal flu?  The symptoms can start off similarly, but are different too.  Even doctors can have a hard time telling a cold or flu apart from a mild case of COVID-19.

Seasonal Allergies:

  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Red, itchy, or puffy eyes
  • Cough and/or sore throat (the result of post-nasal drip)
  • (Allergies will NOT cause fever.)


  • Body aches
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everybody)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more so in children)


  • Fever (Most cases start with a high temperature.  It’s the hallmark.)
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Sputum production
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches   
  • Shortness of breath ( With allergies/flu you may have congestion, making breathing somewhat harder.  But this will feel like “air hunger,” where you are taking more breaths to compensate. )


If you have allergies: You’ve probably dealt with it year after year.  Treat it as usual, with over-the-counter allergy medication or whatever your doctor may have prescribed.

If you have the flu: Stay home.  Hydrate.  Focus on resting and getting healthy.  The methods that help prevent coronavirus spread, like washing hands oftener, and keeping more physical distance from others, can also present the spread of flu.  

If you have COVID-19: Call your physician’s office or hospital and describe your symptoms.  You’ll be advised about next steps.  Do not go to the emergency room, where you could expose others.  Meanwhile, keep away from family members and use a separate bathroom.

To read Elizabeth Millard’s full article, click here: