Ever since COVID-19, the deadly disease triggered by the novel strain of coronavirus - SARS-CoV-2, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, people all over the globe have been in constant panic mode.
To halt the rapid spread of coronavirus disease, stringent lockdowns have been imposed in several countries including India, prohibiting public gatherings, enforcing social distancing measures and recommending frequent handwashing.
Also Read: Coronavirus: Effective Ways To Prevent The Transmission Of This Deadly Virus
Not only this, but it has also resulted in a mere sneeze, abrupt cough, or even the common cold to be a cause for fear and undue amounts of worrying.
This is primarily because the symptoms of COVID-19 in the initial stages closely resemble those of an allergy and once coronavirus disease has progressed to the lungs, the nature of the damage is similar to pneumonia. Moreover, weather changes, from freezing winters, to spring and the blazing hot summers, also give rise to seasonal coughs and colds.
Such a situation, hence, often leads to a lot of confusion and sets off alarm bells everywhere, as there is no preventive vaccine or definitive treatment approach to effectively combat COVID-19 yet.
And while serious cases of coronavirus disease certainly require immediate medical attention, there is absolutely no need to get terrified or anxious if you or anyone around you happens to have a sore throat or sneezes all of a sudden.
The way to differentiate between symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies is quite simple and straightforward. Read on, to understand the variations between the two conditions which mainly affect the upper respiratory tract.
How Does Someone Acquire An Allergy?
Allergies are the defence response of the body’s immune system toward a foreign substance that does not agree with an individual. Some people tend to counter strongly to pollen, dust, animal hair, foods like certain nuts, fish and fruits, prescription drugs, dress materials like wool or latex, seasonal bacteria, virus, or environmental fungi than many other people. This instigates an allergic reaction in the body. Allergies hence have many causes and are not contagious, in contrast to COVID-19.
What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies?
The most common symptoms experienced by people with allergies include:
- Itching in eyes and nose
- Nasal congestion
- Sneezing often
- Sore throat, as a result of postnatal drip
Allergies do not usually cause body pain or lung complications. Symptoms are often chronic, implying they could last for weeks or even months, depending on how often one is exposed to the irritant or allergy-causing agents. Nevertheless, allergies can be managed, do not significantly hamper daily productivity and are efficiently treated with antihistamines and proper medications. This is vastly different from COVID-19, wherein symptoms are acute, their onset is sudden and ample rest and advanced medical treatment is required, to ensure complete recovery.
How Does Someone Contract COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, meaning it can spread at a rather quick rate from an affected person to a healthy individual. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted by means of air droplets when a contaminated person comes in direct contact with others, or when a normal individual touches a surface encountered by an infected person.
Also Read: Coronavirus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?
According to medical experts at the world health organization (WHO) and the Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC), the distinguishing symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- High fever
- Incessant coughing
- Breathing difficulty
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of sense of taste or smell in some instances
Unlike an allergy, wherein a person always displays prominent indications depending upon the underlying factors, COVID-19 can develop in a person, either with obvious signs exhibited even after 14 days of infection or without any noticeable symptoms i.e. asymptomatic cases. In addition, sneezing, itching sensations, nasal mucus secretions are typical of allergies and generally never occur in those with COVID-19.
Although both COVID-19 and the flu are contagious illnesses that affect the respiratory tract and are triggered by viruses, there are certain differences in the way they manifest in people.
- The causative pathogenic microorganism of COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, while in the case of the flu, it is the Influenza A and Influenza B viruses.
- While symptoms of cough, sore throat, muscle pain, fever and fatigue occur in both COVID-19 and the flu, a loss of sense of smell – anosmia and taste – ageusia happens very often only in COVID-19.
- A common set of severe complications can arise from COVID-19 and the flu, such as pneumonia, the collapse of lung functions, heart failure, but only COVID-19 instigates multiple blood clots to form in the arteries, veins of the heart, lungs, brain.
- Upon contracting the flu, the symptoms begin to display prominently 1 – 4 days after infection, but in the case of COVID-19, the major indications show up 5 – 6 days after onset of viral infection and sometimes, even takes up to 14 days.