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Doctor explains how to tell allergies and COVID-19 symptoms apart

A runny nose and a scratchy throat may be signs of something serious, or it could just be allergies. But how do you tell the difference in the middle of a pandemic?
Lexington doctor explains how to tell allergy & COVID symptoms apart
Lexington doctor explains how to tell allergy & COVID symptoms apart
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 4:17 AM CDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A runny nose and a scratchy throat may be signs of something serious, or it could just be allergies. But how do you tell the difference in the middle of a pandemic? WKYT’s Victor Puente talked to an ER doctor about when you should be concerned and when you should just take some more decongestant.

“I think it will be very difficult because people with allergies, some will get COVID, and some people with COVID have allergies,” Dr. Ryan Stanton said. “So it’s gonna be a little bit more challenging to differentiate as we move forward.”

Dr Ryan Stanton said most people who suffer from seasonal allergies should be able to tell if it’s the same issue they’ve faced every year, or something worse.

“It will feel different-- the challenge is that first day or two because COVID does kind of sneak up on you. It may feel similar,” Dr. Stanton said. “But I think most people who have allergies can really tell the difference between what they have or what they’ve had every single year this time of year or something that’s different.”

He says the majority of COVID-19 cases that show symptoms include a fever.

Still, if you are having trouble breathing, it’s worth calling your doctor.

“Allergies other than the sinus headaches, they shouldn’t make you feel bad enough you feel like you need to go to an ER. If you’ve got a fever, cough, significant shortness of breath, even if it is allergy-related like the complications of COPD and asthma, it’s worth coming into the ER and getting treated,” Dr. Stanton said.

Stanton said the next few months in Kentucky could be pretty confusing when it comes to symptoms, with allergies, the flu, and COVID all being possibilities.

He said if it makes you feel better you can pre-treat your allergies, to try to help on days of high pollen counts.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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