Is it allergies, or the virus? A doctor weighs in

  • The Hartwell Sun
    The Hartwell Sun

The COVID-19 epidemic and allergy season are both hitting Georgia at the same time, but there are differences in symptoms between the two. Knowing the symptoms can help you make the decision on whether to seek medical assistance, a Hartwell doctor said.

“It’s unfortunate that we are getting hit by a virus, no matter what, but it is especially unfortunate that it is happening at the end of flu season and the beginning of allergy season because there are a lot of overlapping symptoms,” Dr. Daniel Gordon, of Medlink Hartwell, said.

The main allergy symptom people experience is nasal congestion, but people can also exhibit a sore throat and a cough with allergies, symptoms also associated with the coronavirus, according to Gordon. He says the main difference is that approximately 95 percent of coronavirus patients have a fever, while a fever is rarely a symptom of allergies.

“In the medical community, fever is a big delineation in our algorithm of determining whether or not someone could be considered for coronavirus,” Gordon said. 

Gordon lists chills, body aches, fatigue, severe cough and shortness of breath as other symptoms seen in coronavirus cases that are not common to seasonal allergies.

“A lot of times allergies can get better with some over-the-counter allergy medications, but if you’ve got coronavirus or the flu, symptoms aren’t affected by that,” Gordon said. 

If people are having symptoms common to the coronavirus, Gordon suggests contacting their primary care doctor and discussing the symptoms with them to determine if they should be seen. 

“The majority of mild cases, what we think will be 80 percent of the cases, are not going to require an office visit and people are simply going to be told to stay at home under isolation for 14 days, stay hydrated and take some over-the-counter cold medications,” Gordon said. “If symptoms are more severe, we might suggest coming in for a visit and if they meet the criteria, we can test them for coronavirus.”

Gordon advises to call first, but if the need is urgent people should go to the doctor but expect different intake protocol when arriving. Doctors may ask to take the temperature of the patient and ask questions about symptoms before the patient enters.

Currently, testing is very limited and only used for serious infections, according to Gordon. 

“I wish everybody could have a test,” Gordon said. “I wish everybody could have a rapid nasal swab and I could tell you in 30 minutes if you’ve got it or not but they’re just not available. We have no idea when they are going to be available.”