COVID or allergies? Doctors warn of COVID-19, allergy symptom overlap as pollen count rises

As the pollen count rises in North Carolina, some allergy symptoms have people questioning if they're dealing with COVID-19.

"There is some confusion now that environmental allergy season is picking up," said Dr. Onyi Iweala of UNC Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

Duke Health sent out a reminder Monday to medical staff that allergy season is here and there is symptom overlap with COVID-19.

People could misdiagnose themselves as having allergies when they have the virus.

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"People who have mild COVID infection might only present with a headache or some congestion or running nose, mild sore throat," said Duke Health Infection Prevention Medical Director Dr. Becky Smith.

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Doctor say cough, headache and tiredness are common symptoms among both, but fever, chills, body aches and loss of taste or smell usually only happen with COVID-19.

Dr. Iweala said there's one thing that could help you decipher.

"One of the biggest things people can use to tell apart is symptoms that could go either one would be itch. People who have environmental allergy tend to itch a lot -- itchy nose, itchy ears, itchy mouth and throat," said Iweala.

Medical professionals urge people to take precautionary measures if they start feeling any symptoms.

"Please go get a test with any new or any worsening symptoms to rule out COVID as an abundance of caution, even if you're fully vaccinated," said Smith.

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