Parent Survival Guide: Allergies vs. COVID-19 symptoms for kids

Updated: Apr. 5, 2021 at 3:57 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Spring has sprung and so have seasonal allergies. The sneezing, watery eyes and itchy throat are some of your most common allergy symptoms.

Dr. Carolyn Word with Charleston Allergy and Asthma says when you mix pollen season with the current pandemic it can lead to confusion.

“If your child has allergies already it definitely muddies the waters as to if you’re dealing with allergies or a virus,” Word said.

She says with allergy symptoms patients will have a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing and often times nasal and eye itching. On the other hand with COVID-19 she says you’re less likely to have these symptoms.

She says one thing you almost never see with allergies is a fever.

“Allergies despite the old name hay fever don’t actually cause a fever. So any temp 100.4 or greater would be in line with COVID,” Word said.

She says while both allergies and the virus can cause fatigue and make you or your child feel tired or run down, allergies most likely never cause muscle aches and pain.

“Allergies can cause fatigue and make you feel tired and so can COVID. But COVID is most likely to cause muscle aches and muscle pain like if you have had the flu. It’s supposed to be similar to that,” Word said.

Another tell tell sign that it’s possibly not allergies are headaches.

“In children with COVID we have seen headaches as a common symptom and GI symptoms like nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. Those are things we don’t expect to see with allergies,” she said.

If your child has any of these virus related symptoms she says it’s good to get them tested and keep them home.

“Any symptom that can become concerning is a reason to pause, keep your child at home and reevaluate and determine if you need to see your pediatrician or an allergist, Word said.

Word also adds that if you have ruled out coronavirus and think your child has allergies it’s important to see a certified allergist. She also recommends getting an in-office 15 minute skin test done to see what exactly is causing your child’s allergies.

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