How Do I Know If It’s Spring Allergies And Not COVID-19?

March 6, 2023

Man sneezing: Is It COVID-19 Or Spring Allergies?

Pollen levels may be heavier and longer lasting compared to other years due to the warm winter we just had. We’re all excited for the warm weather, but this spring is going to bring sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and watery eyes. COVID-19 is still part of our lives, but just because symptoms overlap with allergy symptoms, it doesn’t mean your cough or sneeze is a result of COVID-19. 

AFC Urgent Care Malden has created a guide for you this spring season not only to differentiate COVID-19 and spring allergies, but to also give you tips on how to reduce your allergies. 

Why Did Spring Allergies Come Early This Year?

Pollen is the grains or tiny seeds of flowering plants, trees, and grasses. These seeds can be carried on the wind and can cause various symptoms, or none at all, in individuals who are exposed to them.

  1. Priming Effect: The “Priming Effect” occurs when temperatures rocket up and plunge quickly in a short amount of time. Think about many weeks this winter when it’s been extremely cold in the morning, and then warm in the afternoon. The constant change in temperatures causes your body to rev up the immune system, meaning people are hyper-sensitive to the new pollen, and in turn this causes increased sensitivity and more suffering once the allergens are released.
  2. Warm Winters: Warm certainly isn’t something you think of when talking about winter. But warmer winters are just as much a part of allergy season as other factors. 

Differences Between COVID-19 And Spring Allergies

Some COVID-19 and spring allergy symptoms may overlap, and this is where the confusion can happen, but there are many differences between COVID-19 symptoms and spring allergy symptoms. Some symptoms below may vary depending on the individual.

Spring allergies may cause:

  • Sneezing
  • Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)

Possible COVID-19 symptoms may include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may vary and some individuals may not even experience any symptoms. 

Let’s Prepare For The Spring Allergy Season

Here are some tips you can do at home to reduce the severity of your allergies:

  • If you’ve been outside, take a shower before you go to bed and change into fresh clothes so you don’t bring pollen onto your sheets that may have clung to your skin, hair or clothes.
  • Limit outdoor activity to late afternoon: pollen counts are actually highest in the morning.
  • It’s best to go outside after a good rain, as rain helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Keep your car and house windows closed and instead opt for air conditioning at night to keep pollen out.
  • Carry an inhaler or refill your prescription so that you’re prepared for any asthma flare ups. Yes, asthmatics may have it rough this spring allergy season leaving some of you “breathless”.

If you want to take extra precaution, here are some more tips to help you prevent triggers this allergy season. 

  • Remove clothes you've worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Wear a face mask if you do outside chores.

AFC Urgent Care Malden Is Ready To Help Treat You For Allergies

Having a rough allergy season? Here's the good news: our providers at AFC Urgent Care Malden are here to help relieve your symptoms of allergies and asthma. Visit us, any day of the week for treatment of asthma and allergies. No appointments are needed, but they are also welcomed. 

And as mentioned earlier, we have multiple COVID-19 testing options such as the rapid molecular and rapid antigen tests on a walk-in basis or by appointment. It’s best to rule out COVID, so you can have peace of mind this spring season.


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