How to tell the difference between coronavirus and allergies

NEW YORK CITY -- This year's spring allergy season coincides with the coronavirus pandemic, leading many to worry about the symptoms they're experiencing.

One symptom that's common to both is a cough. But an immunologist says the key difference is where the cough originates.

"Coronavirus is more of a dry cough that's really coming from deep in the chest that's usually associated with shortness of breath," says Dr. Melissa Iammatteo, Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Westmed Medical Group. "That's a different type of cough than the allergy cough where you're trying to clear your throat, or there's a tickle in the throat."

Dr. Iammatteo says coronavirus patients usually run a fever, which is not a seasonal allergy symptom. And COVID-19 patients do not experience watery eyes, itchy nose, sneezing and post nasal drip associated with allergies.

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The doctor suggests allergy sufferers avoid outdoor exposure during midday and afternoon when pollen counts are higher. She says rinsing off when returning home is important.

"Take your clothes off, quickly jump in the shower," she said. "Wash your hair, wash your face, because you'll be tracking the pollen throughout the house for the rest of the day. You might even go to sleep with some pollen on you as well."

Experts say if there are any questions about symptoms, call your doctor.

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