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COVID-19 symptoms can masquerade as allergies
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are cough and fever. However, there are several other symptoms and signs that have been identified among some people with COVID-19. Some of these may not be obvious signals of infection, so you will want to be aware that they are possible indicators of novel coronavirus infection.
1) Conjunctivitis--Red eyes with excessive tearing can be a sign of COVID-19. Several reports have noted conjunctivitis early in the course of infection as well as in severe cases of hospitalized patients. According to a study in the Journal of Medical Virology and another in JAMA Ophthalmology novel coronavirus has been noted in the tears of some patients. It is much more common to have red eye due to allergy, but keep in mind it may be a sign of viral infections such as COVID-19.
2) Shortness of breath--This is a common symptom in COVID-19. Usually accompanied by cough, it can be a sign of pneumonia which is a dreaded complication of novel coronavirus infection. During the spring allergy season it is common for people with allergic asthma to experience worsening of their asthma with resulting shortness of breath. But if your shortness of breath is more severe than usual, is associated with decreased oxygen saturation or does not respond quickly to your rescue inhaler, you will want to contact your doctor who can decide if COVID-19 is a likely cause.
3) Hives--Most people think about food or medication allergies when hives occur, but hives have been reported as a sign of COVID-19. In fact hives can occur with a number of viral infections. It is not known exactly why viral infections cause hives although a few theories exist. In addition to hives, persistent redness of the skin has been reported in connection with COVID-19.
4) Loss of smell & taste--Loss of smell and taste can frequently occur in people with allergies either due to severe nasal congestion or nasal polyps. However, this is now realized to be an early sign of COVID-19 as well. In South Korea it has been reported that up to 15% of people with novel coronovirus infection had some alteration in taste or smell.
Contact your doctor if you have concerns that you may have COVID-19. Remember there are certainly other common causes of the above symptoms. Your doctor should be able to help you differentiate among causes and help you obtain testing if necessary.