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If you’ve ever dealt with a case of the common cold, then you know how similar cold and allergy symptoms can be. When cold and allergy seasons overlap, it’s especially hard to know what’s causing your cough and runny nose. But with COVID-19 in the mix, there’s a chance that your symptoms can be caused by a whole other viral disease. Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms and how you can tell them apart from your allergies.


Improving from its number eight spot last year, Richmond scored "better than average" on its allergists to patients ratio but remains "worse than average" in terms of its pollen/mold score.


Despite its coastal location Providence was rated “worse than average” on all measures (pollen/mold score, amount of patients using allergy medication, and allergist to patient ratio).


Moving up from its number eleven spot last year, Dayton was rated "worse than average" on both its pollen/mold score and the amount of patients using allergy medication.


From number twelve last year to number seven this year, Wichita is “worse than average” in terms of its pollen/mold score but has an “average” number of allergists to patients.


Part of the Rio Grande Valley and therefore subject to seasonal "Cedar Fever."2 McAllen scored "worse than average" on all measures (pollen/mold score, amount of patients using allergy medication, and allergist to patient ratio).


For a city rated “worse than average” on its pollen/mold score and amount of patients using allergy medication, Knoxville is “better than average” in terms of its allergists to patients ratio.


Not far from its number two spot last year, Memphis continues to be “worse than average” in terms of its pollen/mold score and the amount of people using allergy medication.


For being "worse than average" on its pollen/mold score and amount of patients using allergy medication, Oklahoma City is "better than average" in terms of its allergists to patients ratio.


From the number one spot last year to number 2 this year, Louisville has—unsurprisingly—a “worse than average” pollen/mold score. Luckily, the city is doing “better than average” in terms of its allergists to patients ratio.


With its "worse than average" pollen/mold score and amount of patients using allergy medicine, the AAFA found Jackson to be the worst city for spring allergy sufferers this year.

What Is COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.1 For most people, COVID-19 symptoms are mild or moderate and can recover without further treatments.1 However, COVID-19 can cause some people, specifically those with underlying health conditions, to develop serious illness.1 If you are at-risk for more severe COVID-19 symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider to find treatment options.1

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

COVID-19 can be transmitted to others very easily. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose through small particles.1 Symptoms start to appear between two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.2 You can also catch COVID-19 by touching your mouth, nose or eyes after coming in contact with an infected surface or object, but the risk for catching the virus this way is low.2

What Do COVID-19 Symptoms Look Like?

Some common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose and muscle aches.3 In some cases, you may even experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or pink eye.2 COVID-19 symptoms can vary based on your vaccination status and what variant you are infected with.3

How Do COVID-19 and Allergy Symptoms Overlap?

COVID-19 and allergies share a few similar symptoms, but you might be able to tell which is which based on the ones that are different. Some shared symptoms between the two include headache, cough, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, pink eye, runny or stuffy nose and loss of taste and smell.2 However, headaches and sore throats are more common with COVID-19, and sneezing is a symptom that is more affiliated with allergies.2

How to Tell the Difference Between Similar COVID-19 and Allergy Symptoms

If you have a cough or have lost the ability to taste or smell things, pay attention to how these symptoms appear. COVID-19 symptoms are typically severe for a few days, whereas allergy symptoms are more consistent for several weeks.4 Loss of taste and smell often occurs without a runny nose if you have COVID-19, but with allergies you may experience loss of smell due to nasal congestion.2

A good way to know what’s causing your symptoms is to take a COVID test.3 You can take a COVID test at home or get a PCR test through your healthcare provider.3 If you have already tested positive for COVID-19, follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines to ensure that others do not get infected.3 Getting a COVID test is also important if you think you have the flu or a cold, since all three of these diseases share common symptoms.2

How to Get Tested for Allergies

Unlike COVID-19, allergy symptoms aren’t contagious and cannot be transferred to others.2 However, it’s still good to get tested for allergies so you know what types of allergens are bothering you.5 Allergy tests are used to measure your body’s response to certain allergens.5 Common allergens like mold or pollen can be found in the air during allergy season, and getting an allergy test can help you prepare for your symptoms better.5 Your healthcare provider or allergist will perform a skin test or a blood test to determine what you are allergic to. 5 Test results time vary based on the allergy test. Test results for a skin prick test will typically take 15 minutes to elicit an allergic reaction. 5 A patch test will range from 48 to 96 hours. 5

How to Help Your Allergy Symptoms

The best way to keep your allergy symptoms at bay is to avoid the things that trigger them.2 If you are allergic to pollen or other outdoor allergens, keep your windows closed and minimize the amount of time you spend outdoors.2 You can also try wearing a face mask to prevent you from breathing in larger pollen particles.2

Using allergy-specific medications can also be helpful for managing your symptoms.2 You can treat your allergy symptoms with antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays or decongestants.2 If you’re looking for a nasal spray that can relieve symptoms for up to 24 hours, try FLONASE Allergy Relief Nasal Spray. Each dose of FLONASE works to block six allergic substances, while most allergy medicines only block one*. You can also try FLONASE Headache & Allergy Relief Caplets to help with headaches and congestion caused by your allergies.

*Flonase acts on multiple inflammatory substances (histamine, prostaglandins, cytokines, tryptases, chemokines, and leukotrienes). The exact number of mediators and precise mechanisms are unknown.*

If you’re constantly dealing with allergies, FLONASE can help you alleviate your symptoms. Find more tips on treating allergies with FLONASE.

Source Citations:

  1. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organization. Accessed 6/2/2023.
  2. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: What are the differences? Mayo Clinic. Accessed 6/2/2023.
  3. Symptoms of COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 6/2/2023.
  4. Cough: Allergies or COVID-19 symptom? OSF Healthcare. Accessed 6/2/2023.
  5. Allergy Testing. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 6/2/2023.