Allergies? Common cold? Flu? Or COVID-19?

By: Anna R. Wolfson, MD, Contributor

With so many people wrestling with fears and unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, each throat tickle, nostril drip, or cough is suspect: do I’ve coronavirus? By now, everyone knows that COVID-19, the sickness attributable to coronavirus, could cause extreme, life-threatening signs, though the bulk of people that have it would expertise a gentle to reasonable model.

In fact, it’s spring, so many individuals could also be experiencing their annual springtime tree pollen allergy symptoms. Colds additionally stay widespread, simply as was true earlier than the coronavirus. And though influenza season is coming to an finish, maybe you’ve puzzled if a few of your signs might be the flu. Beneath, I’ve defined key signs that will help you distinguish these diseases and take motion as wanted.

Are your signs in step with COVID-19?

Initially of the pandemic, your journey historical past provided essential clues, however that is now not pertinent as a result of coronavirus has been spreading in our communities.

Remember that most individuals who get COVID-19 will be capable to get well at residence (see details about what to do if you’re sick from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention). Nevertheless, in case your signs are worrisome or extreme, name your physician or native hospital, or verify along with your native well being division so that you might be evaluated instantly, if that’s needed.

Key signs: The extra widespread and typically extreme signs of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Two extra widespread signs are fatigue and lack of urge for food. Much less generally, individuals could have diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Some individuals report a scarcity of style or scent. A big variety of individuals expertise no signs (it’s even potential to have coronavirus and never expertise a fever).

Normally signs seem inside 5 days after publicity, however it could possibly take as much as 14 days.

How can I make sure I’ve COVID-19? In case you are involved about signs, contact your physician or your native board of well being to seek out out whether or not you have to be examined, and if testing is offered close to you. The factors for getting examined are quickly altering as extra checks develop into out there.

Are your signs in step with allergy symptoms?

Spring, with its budding bushes and hotter climate, means allergy season for many people. As you see the bushes in your space budding, meaning the pollen counts may even be rising.

Key signs: Two robust indicators that recommend allergy symptoms: in the event you’ve had springtime allergy symptoms earlier than, and if itch is a outstanding element of your signs. Individuals with allergy symptoms typically have itchy eyes, itchy nostril, and sneezing, in addition to less-specific allergy signs comparable to a runny, congested nostril, and a sore throat or cough that’s usually attributable to postnasal drip.

How can I make sure I’ve allergy symptoms? One of the simplest ways to diagnose allergy symptoms is through the use of pores and skin testing at an allergist’s workplace. In the event you discovered taking drugs comparable to over-the-counter antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays useful in prior years, then it could be reassuring that in case your signs enhance with these drugs, your signs could also be attributable to seasonal allergy symptoms. As anybody with allergy symptoms can attest, allergy symptoms linger for months, so the timeline can typically be a clue, too.

Are your signs in step with the widespread chilly?

In medication we regularly say “widespread issues are widespread,” and the widespread chilly stays widespread even throughout this pandemic.

Key signs:Signs of the widespread chilly are often a runny, congested nostril in addition to a sore throat, headache, and usually feeling unwell. A gentle cough attributable to postnasal drip and sneezing can happen, however itch can be much less doubtless. Extra extreme signs, comparable to fever and shortness of breath, will not be traditional signs of the widespread chilly.

How can I make sure I’ve a chilly? A chilly is often identified just by assessing signs and with out testing. Over-the-counter chilly drugs typically will help with symptom management. The widespread chilly will often resolve inside roughly one week of onset of signs.

Are your signs in step with the flu?

Within the US, the flu season is coming to an finish, whereas COVID-19 numbers proceed to rise. So, flulike signs ought to immediate concern for COVID-19.

Key signs:Flu is characterised by fever, chills, muscle aches, and exhaustion. It classically comes on all of the sudden, versus the extra gradual onset of the widespread chilly. Extra delicate signs may also happen, just like the widespread chilly, comparable to a runny nostril, sore throat, and headache. Vomiting and diarrhea are unusual in adults, however can occur in youngsters.

How can I make sure I’ve the flu? Flu is identified based mostly on a swab check carried out by a healthcare supplier. Prescription drugs can restrict the length of influenza signs, however have to be began promptly. The flu vaccine can be an essential a part of prevention. The length of signs is roughly one week, with symptom enchancment occurring round 5 days.

Nonetheless unsure what’s inflicting your signs?

It’s possible you’ll discover this chart from the American Academy of Allergy, Bronchial asthma & Immunology useful. Nevertheless, it’s wisest to verify along with your physician in the event you’re involved that your signs is perhaps attributable to COVID-19.

For extra details about coronavirus or COVID-19, see the Harvard Well being Coronavirus Useful resource Heart and podcasts.

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