Know More about Coronavirus, Flu and Allergies Differences

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 10:36

Due to the coronavirus outbreak all around the world, many people are confused by similar symptoms of COVID-19, flue and, with spring upon us, allergies.

According to an ISCA report, seasonal allergies, sometimes called "hay fever" or seasonal allergic rhinitis, are allergy symptoms that happen any time of the year, but are more common in the spring when pollen is prevalent in the air.

Based on a report released by the website of Weather, Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist at the University of Florida, explained the key symptoms and differences between allergies, the flu and COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that is rapidly spreading worldwide.


Sneezing and itchiness are the hallmark symptoms of seasonal allergies, technically known as allergic rhinitis or allergic sinusitis, and neither of those symptoms are prevalent with the flu or COVID-19, Cherabuddi said.

"I think those two kind of speak more to the allergy part of it," he said. "So if you’re having itching, predominantly sneezing, some nasal obstruction … those tend to be much more common with allergic rhinitis."


While flu season typically starts to wane this time of year, nearly every state is still reporting high incidences of flu-related illness, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This flu season has been especially hard on children, a group that so far seems less affected by COVID-19.

Of the three illnesses, flu is the most common and the one a person is currently most likely to be diagnosed with, Cherabuddi said.

Fever, headaches and body aches are the key symptoms of the flu. Some people might also experience a slight sore throat and post-nasal drip.

"And just that feeling of not feeling well, malaise, fatigue," he said. "These tend to be present much more with the flu than anything else."

Fever with the flu tends to be higher than with COVID-19, and the onset of symptoms is quicker.


Unlike the flu, symptoms of COVID-19 seem to take longer to show up, and the illness appears to linger for weeks once someone is infected.

"This one tends to be slower, not as much fever (or) very low fever," Cherabuddi said.

The most prominent symptoms of COVID-19 are a dry cough and shortness of breath, he said.

Cherabuddi said studies from China show that only about 40% of people infected had a fever when they went to the hospital, but the rest developed one within a day or two. About two-thirds had a dry cough. Some people develop a severe case of pneumonia after days with the disease.

"In the people we know who had a pneumonia, it took about 9 or 10 days for them to even get there," Cherabuddi said.

He pointed out that most cases weren't severe and the average duration from exposure to getting sick was about five days.

Gelare Khademvesal


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