Allergies, Cold or COVID-19?

During the coronavirus outbreak, it’s normal to be worried when you start feeling unwell. Unfortunately, the outbreak also coincides with allergy season here in Iowa—putting many people on edge.

One thing to remember is that allergies, the common cold and COVID-19 all have fairly distinct symptoms. Comparing these symptoms can help you determine which course of action you should take.

Do you have a fever?

While you’re likely to have a fever if you have COVID-19, you’re less likely to have one if you have a cold or seasonal allergies. (According to the CDC, a fever is generally defined as a temperature above 100.4 degrees.)

Are you short of breath?

Allergies and colds don’t normally cause shortness of breath (unless, of course, your allergies trigger an asthma attack). But shortness of breath is a key symptom of COVID-19.

What’s the timing of your symptoms?

The onset of allergy and cold symptoms is generally gradual, and the symptoms are rarely severe. COVID-19 symptoms, on the other hand, generally start gradually and then quickly get worse.


Common symptoms

Less common symptoms

Seasonal allergies
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes and mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue due to lack of sleep
Common cold
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild to moderate chest discomfort
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
















Care for COVID-19

Anyone who thinks they were exposed to the coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should call their primary care provider to discuss next steps. You can also take this online assessment from the state of Iowa. People with a medical emergency should call 911 immediately.

Allergy self-care

If you think allergies are the cause of your symptoms, these home-care tips may help:

  • Keep your windows closed.
  • Avoid smoke from cigarettes or wood-burning fires.
  • Consider over-the-counter allergy medication.
  • Vacuum and dust frequently to remove allergens from your home.
  • Wash your bedding in hot water. And avoid hanging laundry outside, as outdoor allergens can stick to fabric.
  • Follow the pollen count in your area, and spend time outside when the pollen count is the lowest.

Help for your allergies

If you’re tired of fighting allergies, Iowa ENT Center can help. Our providers are currently seeing allergy patients via virtual visit. These video chats are easy and safe—and they’re usually covered by insurance.