These days we are gripped with fear if we come down with symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, headaches or fever. Should you run out and get tested for COVID-19, or are these simply signs of a summer cold or allergies? Before you panic, take inventory of how you feel. Symptoms of seasonal allergies, colds, flu, and the COVID-19 delta variant are often similar to one another so it is important to speak with your healthcare professional.
“If you feel sick, don’t diagnose yourself,” said Dr. Deborah German, founding dean of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and vice president for Health Affairs. She tells The Palm Beach Post that it is better to call, rather than just show up at the office or clinic. “Your provider can determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19 and what treatment you need.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the most common symptoms of COVID-19 as:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
However, there are some differences when it comes to the delta variant ― healthcare experts say that people infected with the delta variant tend to suffer more headaches, stuffy noses and sore throats, and don’t exhibit symptoms of loss of taste and smell. These same symptoms may also indicate the flu. But people with COVID-19 will start having symptoms two to 14 days after contact with the virus, while those who get the flu will feel sick about one to four days after exposure.
The common cold causes a stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, fatigue and sometimes a fever, says the Post. And symptoms appear one to three days after contact with the cold-causing virus. While symptoms of a summer cold and allergies can be alike, both can be distinguished from COVID-19 because they usually do not involve the lack of taste and smell.
Dr. Sara Narayan, an allergist-immunologist in Westford, Mass, who is affiliated with Emerson Hospital, says the way to differentiate between allergies and COVID-19 include a timeline and past history.
“Often people with allergies have a history of seasonal allergies,” she says. “Allergies also tend to make people feel itchy and itchiness is not a symptom of viral illness. Patients with allergies do not develop a fever as people with COVID-19 often do.”
You can find a helpful guide to common symptoms for allergies, cold, flu and COVID-19 from Emerson Hospital here. So, before you panic, take a deep breath, take stock of your symptoms and check with your doctor.
“Everyone is assuming that it’s COVID and rushing out to get tested, but they really should just be getting good, sensible medical care,” said Dr. Stanley Weiss, of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
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