How to tell the difference between COVID-19 and fall allergies

It’s fall season and that means fall allergies are ever-present. But in the midst of a pandemic, doctors tell us many families struggle to decipher between allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms.

“Everything is all Covid, all the time. The fact is, it’s not. Now, when people get an itchy nose they aren't thinking allergies, they are thinking COVID and they want to be tested,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill and a firsthand witness to the anxiety families across our area are facing.

While some COVID and allergy symptoms may seem similar, ultimately there are several differences.

“In COVID you have a fever. and allergies you’re not going to have a fever. In COVIDyou’re going to have gastrointestinal symptoms sometimes, diarrhea or vomiting, you don’t have that with allergies,” said Dr. Horovitz.

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In schools, New York State guidelines require that students who have any COVID symptoms— which could include cough or headache—must quarantine for 14 days if the student doesn’t get tested within 48 hours.

Early childhood educator, Jennie Monness is also a mom of two young girls, Tess and Nell.  She, like so many parents, isn’t comfortable with her kids getting tested for COVID.

“I would rather keep my one and three-year-olds home where they can still engage in self-directed play and socialization rather than subject them to the discomfort of a test at such a young age,” said Monness.

At the end of the day parents have to make the decision they’re most comfortable with. But if you’re undecided, Dr. Horvotiz recommends erring on the side of caution and getting your kid tested if he or she has Covid symptoms. A short period of discomfort may be worth a clean bill of helath.