Allergies or coronavirus? Here’s how to tell the difference


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — At a time when the coronavirus pandemic is running rampant, many who have seasonal allergies start getting concerned if their symptoms mirror those of COVID-19.

WREG asked a Memphis health expert to explain the difference in symptoms.

Dr. Stephen Threlkeld is an infectious disease physician and co-direction of Baptist Memphis’s infection prevention program. He says seasonal allergies tend to be more constant.

“They’re not changing and they’ve probably been around for weeks by the time it gets somebody’s attention, but it can be difficult to tell,” Threlkeld said.

Threlkeld says symptoms for coronavirus tend to be more extreme.

“I think yesterday, I read off a series of symptoms that one patient had,” Threlkeld said. “It ranged from runny nose to nausea to vomiting, sore throat, cough, headaches, muscle aches. Those kinds of things are a bit more impressive than you would see in seasonal allergies.”

Threlkeld says persons with seasonal allergies should not be alarmed if they have a low-grade temperature, sore throat and headache, but shortness of breath and a significant fever are red flags.

“If you have a question, you can also call your doctor, who will also have experience with you and can know it there is any departure from those symptoms,” Threlkeld said.

Justin Wise is a Bartlett resident who is allergic to pollen. Wise says though he’s used to dealing with his pollen allergy, he knows now it’s important to be cautious.

“If I get to a point where I’m really starting to feel bad, yea I’ll definitely check it,” Wise said, “but so far I just keep on going and watch the symptoms and what happens there.”

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