COVID symptoms can be mistaken for allergies; here’s what to do

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:35 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) – Spring is in the air. So is pollen and all the tiny little particles that can cause us to sneeze, plus make our nose itch and eyes water.

Is it allergies or something worse?

“Is it fairly easy for most people to confuse those types of symptoms for sure,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System, who specializes in infectious diseases.

Hawkinson is talking about symptoms of COVID and he said that, right now, it could very well be the virus.

“We have seen a trend of increasing cases for the past few weeks,” said Hawkinson.

Data proves it. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, the average of new daily cases in the Kansas City metro in April was around 67, with daily new cases at 61. Two months later nearly into June, the average of new daily cases is now four times higher at 284. Daily new cases are at 390, six times higher.

“This post-Omicron way, which still includes Omicron subvariants,” said Hawkinson, “I think we’re in the midst of it now.”

“Those are reported cases,” he said. “Those are not cases where people, again, did not decide to test or they’re using at-home tests.”

Hawkinson said that since the symptoms of allergies and COVID can be similar, you should stay at home if you’re in doubt and get tested if you’re sick.

“The sooner you get tested and you have a positive result, the sooner you can get on the antiviral medicine Paxlovid,” said Hawkinson, “if you’re one of those people who may be at high risk for progression of disease.”

He encourages practicing COVID protocols like wearing a mask, engaging in social distancing, keeping activities outside, and implementing good hand hygiene. He said the best safeguard is the vaccine.

“Being up to date with your vaccination can reduce the chance you have infection,” said Hawkinson. “Overall, we know that being up to date and vaccinated is going to protect you from hospitalization.”

Hawkinson said he does not anticipate this current COVID wave to turn into another round of the pandemic.

“If we can take any comfort from what South Africa has seen and what the U.K. has seen, they haven’t seen that large surge in hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. “I think that is important to know.”