Cape Cod Healthcare Discusses Differences Between COVID-19 Symptoms and Seasonal Allergies

HYANNIS – As the spring allergy season continues, Cape Cod Healthcare is reminding residents to make sure they know what’s cause for concern and what is not.

“People are justifiably nervous right now, so it’s important to act based on information,” said Peter Crosson, MD, a specialist in internal medicine at Strawberry Hill Primary Care in Hyannis.

“It’s easy to tell the difference between allergies and a COVID-19 infection. The majority of people who are symptomatic from COVID have fevers. It’s the most common symptom, and allergies do not cause fevers.”

According to Dr. Crosson, typical allergy symptoms include itchy eyes, itchy ears, a sense of sinus fullness, and postnasal drip.

“People may notice that their allergy symptoms wax and wane a little bit from day to day,” said Crosson.

Allergy symptoms may be more noticeable on days that are drier or warmer, and less noticeable on rainy days.

“That’s not true of the COVID symptoms, which tend to be more progressive, once you start getting sick, you get sicker,” Crosson said.

Crosson added that typical coronavirus symptoms include a high incidence of respiratory symptoms.

“People will often feel chest discomfort and shortness of breath, along with a sore throat and cough, they don’t wax and wane, they just get worse.”

People who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus can be asymptomatic for up to a week or more, Dr. Crosson emphasized.

He said that if you typically suffer from allergies during the spring months, you may want to purchase a small supply of your preferred allergy medication now so that it is on hand when it is needed.

“We don’t want people to hoard medications, but it’s a good policy to plan ahead for what looks like up to six weeks of social distancing and sheltering in place,” Crosson said.

“Most allergy medicines are sold in monthly supplies anyway, so it’s usually not too hard to get enough to cover you during this period.”

Cape Cod Healthcare officials are reminding residents that if allergies cause you to start sneezing to be sure to practice good hygiene by sneezing into a tissue or your elbow.

“Sneezing isn’t a major symptom with COVID and sneezing that’s related to an allergy is not contagious,” said Crosson.

“But the problem is, you could have COVID as well as allergies, so droplet precautions are super important.”

The doctor said that everybody needs to be cautious right now and should behave as if they are infected to help curve the spread of COVID-19.

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