Are My Symptoms Seasonal Allergies or Something Else?

March 05, 2024

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Spring is here, meaning seasonal allergies are too. As of 2021, 25.7% of adults in the US and 18.9% of children in the US reported having seasonal allergies. Still, symptoms associated with seasonal allergies can be attributed to other health conditions. 

Some symptoms of seasonal allergies include: 

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Post-nasal drip 
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

These symptoms are also associated with conditions such as the common cold, a sinus infection, the flu, and even COVID-19, so how can you determine whether your symptoms are linked to allergies or something else?  

Differentiating Between Illnesses

The common cold can be caused by a variety of viruses that affect the nose and throat, but symptoms typically last only between seven and 10 days. If your symptoms last longer than that, you can likely rule out a cold. In addition to the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, people with a cold may also experience:

  • Body aches and mild headaches
  • Low-grade fevers 

A sinus infection causes inflammation and swelling inside the nose, making it difficult for the sinuses to drain. Often times, a sinus infection clears up within a week and 10 days. Sinus infections can be due to viruses or bacteria. If your symptoms worsen or persist longer than 10 days without improve, talk with your healthcare provider to see if additional evaluation or treatment is needed

While a sinus infection shares symptoms with seasonal allergies as well as the common cold and flu, these additional symptoms are good differentiators:

  • Pain and tenderness around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead
  • Ear pressure 
  • Headache 
  • Aching in the teeth
  • Tiredness
  • Fever 

The flu is a viral infection that can affect the nose, throat, and lungs. Usually, it comes on more quickly than a cold. Though a cough, sore throat, and runny nose are common symptoms of the flu, it’s set apart from seasonal allergies by symptoms such as:

  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle of body aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Eye pain 

COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus Disease 2019, is an illness caused tiny droplets of fluid shared between people in close contact. The severity of COVID-19 varies from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Though it may share symptoms with seasonal allergies, such as cough and congestion or runny nose, COVID-19 also presents as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain, including body aches and muscle aches 
  • Overwhelming fatigue

If you’re experiencing allergies and need help pinpointing the cause, talk to your primary care provider or find an allergist or ENT specialist.  


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