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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share symptoms but with some key differences

The best thing for people who have known allergies or asthma is to keep their symptoms under control and avoid known triggers.

INDIANAPOLIS — Allergists are hearing from parents – those whose kids have allergies and especially those suffering from asthma. They are worried that having asthma means they're at increased risk for developing symptoms from COVID-19 if they are exposed.

13News anchor Julia Moffitt talked with some experts about what to watch out for because of the global pandemic.

Parents concerned

Courtney Sood, who is a mother of two, has a daughter with a severe allergy to peanuts.

“I think what concerns me most is just being able to decipher the symptoms right — like is this a symptom of an allergy or an exposure, you know, because she does have sort of an asthma component too.”

Kids who have severe allergies are also more likely to suffer from asthma — and the little we do know about COVID-19, it attacks the lungs.

“It’s scary. We want our kids to be safe from this, but it’s hard to know “ Sood said.

Food allergies affect an estimated 8 percent of children in the United States — which is 1 in 13 children or about two students per classroom.

“The CDC guidelines that a lot of the symptoms, the common symptoms between COVID and allergies, are the same. So I think that's what is hard to decipher,” Sood said.

Understand the difference in symptoms

The CDC says COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share many symptoms, but there are some key differences.

COVID-19 symptoms, unrelated to allergies:

  • Fever
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Allergy symptoms unrelated to COVID-19:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing

”Every child is different, and every situation is different. I recommend parents speak to their child's pediatrician and their allergist, who will know best how to guide them. I think that is the most important information,” said Dr. Vivian Hernandez, pediatric allergist and immunologist. 

Dr. Hernandez said recent studies have indicated that those with asthma are not at a higher risk for developing symptoms from COVID-19 or being hospitalized if they become infected. 

The best thing for people who have known allergies or asthma is to keep their symptoms under control, avoid known triggers and follow all coronavirus-related precautions.

And like Sood and her daughter, always be prepared. For them, that means carrying an EpiPen with them everywhere.

“She does [carry it], she's covered. She's been carrying a little purse around since she was 3 years old, just like I do," Sood said.