Maybe you’ve developed a cough, you’re experiencing some shortness of breath…or maybe you’re even noticed some changes in your taste or smell. Needless to say: If you’re feeling under the weather these days, chances are your mind will wander to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s the thing: Because of the overlapping symptoms of the common cold, allergies, and COVID-19, it can be hard to know exactly what’s wrong. How do you know if your cough is just that, or something more serious? Luckily, there are key differences between these three illnesses that you can be aware of. Read below for more info on how to tell your symptoms apart. (And a word to the wise before we get into it: If you’re experiencing any symptoms, getting a COVID-19 test to be sure is a good idea.)
The common cold shares certain symptoms with COVID-19, such as body aches, nasal congestion, dry cough, and even shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Because vaccinated individuals may experience more mild COVID-19 symptoms, it can be difficult to decipher whether the cough or nasal drip you’re experiencing is related to something beyond a cold. One major predictor of COVID-19 is if you experience a consistent loss of smell or taste loss of smell or taste. But since there’s so much overlap here, you might consider getting a COVID-19 test if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, just to be sure.
Seasonal allergies, unlike COVID-19, are brought on when your immune system reacts to possible allergens. In other words, the possible symptoms you may experience with seasonal allergies are triggered by things in the environment, like grass and tree pollen. But like the common cold, allergy symptoms can mimic symptoms of COVID-19 too. The two share similar symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and postnasal drip . But other symptoms associated with COVID-19 are not seen in seasonal allergies, such as fever, muscle aches, and especially loss of smell or taste. If you are experiencing a loss of taste and smell, you’ll want to consider getting tested for COVID-19.
While other, more minor symptoms are common like headaches, sore throat, and runny nose can more easily be confused with allergies or the common cold, the loss of smell or taste is usually specific to COVID-19. Whether or not you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, if you are experiencing severe versions of these symptoms, contacting your provider and considering a COVID-19 test are most likely your safest options.