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Is it seasonal allergies or COVID-19? How to tell the difference between symptoms

Some symptoms between the two do overlap, and one Central Georgia doctor says there is a certain point when you might want to get tested for COVID

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — It's March and springtime is near. In Central Georgia, that means seasonal allergies and some people have questions whether their congestion or cough is allergy-related or a sign of COVID-19.

Christy Burress says she and her daughter take allergy medicine year-round for allergies. On New Year's Eve, she was caught by surprise.

"I actually had the virus. New Year's Eve it started out like, I thought I had allergy problems," she said. "Then the next day, I thought I was having sinus issues, and then I thought it was a sinus infection."

She noticed one major red flag.

"The biggest thing was when I noticed that medications weren't changing anything, nothing was helping. I started thinking... okay, something else is going on. This isn't my allergies," she said.

13WMAZ spoke to a doctor about how you can tell the difference between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies. Dr. Uwa Iguobadia is the Houston Medical Center's chair of pediatrics.

She says COVID-19 symptoms include fever and chills, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, and body and muscle aches. Allergies usually just bring itchy or watery eyes, and sneezing.

"Typically, with allergies, you're not going to have a fever. They will have some sneezing, probably sinus pain or pressure over the eyes, over the cheeks or over the forehead," said Iguobadia.

She says some symptoms do overlap, including fatigue and headache.

"Patients that I see here at the clinic, runny nose, nasal congestion, sometimes sore throat, and cough. We want to make sure that your runny nose and congestion are not just allergy symptoms," she said.

Dr. Iguobadia suggests taking allergy medicine if your symptoms seem to match your typical season allergies. If that medicine does not work, she recommends getting tested for COVID-19.

The CDC created a chart to compare COVID-19 to seasonal allergies and you can access it here.

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