Allergies vs. COVID-19 symptoms – which is which?

By the team at Speedoc,
May 06, 2020

Having a runny nose, cough, or itchy eyes could make you anxious about whether you have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, especially with everyone on high alert. However, these symptoms could have been triggered by a simple allergic reaction. It is therefore important to know the difference between COVID-19 and allergies.

Allergies are reactions by the immune system in response to substances in the environment that are usually harmless to other people. The substance, or allergen, that triggers an allergic reaction differs from person to person.

What triggers an allergic reaction?

Common allergens that could trigger an allergic reaction include:

  • Animal dander (dried skin flakes from cats, dogs, or even birds)

  • Certain foods like peanuts, shellfish, and soybeans

  • Dust mites

  • Insect stings from bees, hornets, and fire ants

  • Latex

  • Mould

  • Pollen

How can I tell if I’m just having allergies or if I’m down with COVID-19?

Aside from a cough, the symptoms of allergies and COVID-19 are vastly different. The biggest difference is that you will not develop a fever from an allergic reaction. If you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, especially if you have a fever, see a doctor immediately. Severe allergic reactions can also cause shortness of breath or chest tightness. The bottom line is, if you are in doubt, always consult your doctor.

Treatments for allergies

Antihistamines can provide effective relief for allergy symptoms. They come in liquid form or in tablets and are available over-the-counter at pharmacies. Make sure to follow the dosage instructions that come with the medicine and do not take more than what is recommended unless advised by your doctor.

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is a common form of allergy that affects up to 13.1% of people in Singapore. It is characterized by nasal symptoms, such as sudden and repeated sneezing, an itchy or blocked nose, and runny nose with clear discharge. Antihistamines and steroid or decongestant nasal sprays will help provide relief. Nasal washes are also a drug-free option to clear blocked nasal passages and remove allergens.

Speedoc can help with your allergies

You can use our medicine delivery services for your regular antihistamines and nasal sprays refilled without having to leave the house. If you’re unsure of whether you are simply having an allergic reaction, our team of on-demand doctors and nurses are available 24/7 for a consultation with you in your home.

Download the Speedoc app from the App Store or Google Play Store to book a consultation with our Singapore-licensed medical professionals. You can also do so through our hotline, +65 8180 8948.