NewsHealthier Together


Wellness Wednesday: is it spring allergies or COVID-19?

Posted at 7:56 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 09:56:27-04

IDAHO — Spring is here, and that means you're likely dealing with those spring allergy symptoms. So, how can you make sure those symptoms aren't connected to COVID-19?

Dr. Drew Oliveira, a Senior Executive Medical Director with Regence, says there are key differences between the two.

"Allergies typically present with what we've all had: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion. Those are the common ones with allergies. The biggest difference with a COVID infection is fever, headaches, fatigue, big cough, and maybe even shortness of breath."

Common allergens like dust and pollen can trigger symptoms, sometimes making them more severe for people who suffer from respiratory conditions.

"Certainly people with asthma are going to be triggered by allergens during the allergy season. It can also be worse somewhat with COVID as well so asthmatics, people with respiratory conditions, always should take care either with seasonal times or even times with respiratory infections," says Dr. Oliveira.

Limiting exposure to both allergens and COVID-19 can be as simple as checking the pollen count for the day and following COVID guidelines, including wearing a mask.

"If you can avoid the pollens in the air, so when you have your allergies, don't go outside. Limit your time outside. Try to stay inside as much as possible," explains Dr. Oliveira. "But the other thing, pollens are big, fluffy, little particles and you can wear a mask and sometimes that can diminish the impact of pollen creating allergies, and it's also very nice that it protects against COVID."

While much of the focus is on mitigating COVID risk and dealing with allergies, it's important to remember that despite lower case numbers, flu season is also still active.

"The flu this year has been very minimal, not only across Idaho but across the United States, and a lot of that is because we haven't been out with other people, we've been wearing masks, we've actually been doing all those things that prevent the flu," Dr. Oliveira says.

If you have more questions about the differences between allergies, COVID-19, and the flu, call your health provider. You can also check out the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare or click here.