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Allergies or COVID-19? UW Health provides advice to differentiate the two

Is it allergies or COVID-19?
Is it allergies or COVID-19?(WAGM)
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Is it allergies or COVID-19? That’s the question UW Health says can be challenging to answer as warmer weather arrives and COVID-19 cases are on the rise in adolescents.

UW Health pediatric allergist Dr. Mark Moss says the overlap in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies is what makes it hard to differentiate the two without a COVID-19 test. These shared symptoms can include nasal congestion, a runny nose and post-nasal drip.

“If a child is having respiratory symptoms, fever, chills, body aches or a sudden loss of taste or smell, parents should definitely have their child tested for COVID-19,” said Dr. Moss.

Dr. Moss said the biggest difference to look out for is itchy symptoms, meaning itchy eyes, itchy nose and sneezing. Itchiness is generally not a sign of illness, meaning it is likely seasonal allergies.

“If there is any doubt about the cause of those symptoms, parents should always err on the side of caution rather than risk exposing other family members, classmates and the community to the virus,” added Dr. Moss.

UW Health advises parents to consult with their doctor or pharmacist before giving over-the-counter allergy medicine to their child, which would likely lessen their symptoms.

Families can also keep their windows closed at night, try to stay indoors when pollen or mold levels are high and wear a mask to reduce allergies. They can also avoid hanging laundry outside to dry, keep windows closed when driving and use a Neti Pot to reduce symptoms.

Those with severe seasonal allergies could benefit from seeing an allergist to identify their specific allergen triggers and create a plan to reduce them, Dr. Moss added.

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