Allergies or COVID-19? | News | Loyola Medicine
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Is It Allergies or COVID-19?

Loyola Medicine Allergies Explains the Difference, and Why You Should Keep Allergy and Asthma Symptoms Under Control During This Pandemic

image of woman blowing her nose

MAYWOOD, IL—Spring allergies are in full force. So how do you know if your symptoms are due to allergies or the COVID-19 virus?

In a new video, “How allergy symptoms differ from COVID-19,” Loyola Medicine allergist Rachna Shah, MD, outlines the different symptoms for each, and why it's important to keep your spring allergy and asthma symptoms under control during this pandemic.

“This spring allergy season has been especially challenging because of the pandemic of COVID-19,” says Dr. Shah, “and a lot of my patients, and a lot of allergy suffers, can have a hard time distinguishing between what is an allergy and what are symptoms of COVID-19.”

The symptoms of seasonal allergies are typically itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing, runny nose and post-nasal drip. The symptoms of the COVID-19 virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhea and sometimes, a sore throat.

“The big differentiating factor between allergies and COVID-19 are those itchy symptoms,” says Dr. Shah, “itchy eyes, itchy nose and sneezing. If you are experiencing these, they are most likely due to environmental allergies and not COVID-19.”

Many people with allergies also suffer from asthma, a chronic inflammation of the lungs.

“Asthma can also make you more susceptible to having more severe symptoms of COVID-19,” says Dr. Shah. “So, it is really important to have an up-to-date action plan for both your allergies and for your asthma.”

“Often, when people are feeling well, they will become more lax about following their treatment plans,” says Dr. Shah. Instead, patients should be “vigilant” in taking all medications as prescribed and having additional inhalers and refills.

To minimize allergy symptoms, Dr. Shah also recommends avoiding allergens. This can be done by keeping windows closed, and/or rinsing off or changing clothes after being outside. Many of the current restrictions for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including staying at home, can also help to minimize allergy and asthma symptoms this spring.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.