“Everyone in the family, including my elderly father, has allergies every spring, but this year, our symptoms seem worse than ever. My father is worried we could have Covid, but I disagree. Can you clear up our Covid-19 or allergies debate?” –Gina from Dunwoody


Most people have spent more time at home over the past year, and with the spring weather, they want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. For some, that means too much pollen exposure, which in turn can make them feel pretty miserable. When you feel rundown, you may forget that those symptoms are familiar, and focus instead on the possibility of viral contact and infection.

It makes sense why you are having this debate, since several of the symptoms for Covid-19 or allergies are the same. On the other hand, the differences between them can be significant, which may make it easier to tell which health condition is present. Once you and your loved one know what to look for, you may feel more comfortable with treatment and interaction with others who may be experiencing allergy symptoms.


It seems not a day has gone by in over a year that we have not had to think about the pandemic. From the isolation to fear of contracting the virus, our lives have changed in more ways and in less time than we ever thought possible.

We are, however, more educated now than we were a year ago. Scientists have a better picture of how the virus is transmitted, how it progresses, and how to treat it. We are clearly not out of the woods, but we are heading in the right direction.

Chances are good that most seniors have received their vaccinations by this point, but it is the other family members, caregivers, and other people with whom our loved one comes into contact that can still contract and spread the virus. What symptoms should you be looking for? The main concern is fever greater than 100 degrees. Along with that fever may be shortness of breath, body aches, chills, and even diarrhea or nausea. People with Covid-19 may also experience a loss of smell or taste. Patients describe having a dry cough, fatigue, and sore throat, and some have said it feels like the worst case of flu they have ever had.

For the most part, these symptoms present like a virus, starting with a sudden onset of fever. The concern is when people have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung problems, or obesity. These people, along with those with compromised immune systems, may not recover fully from Covid-19, and the most vulnerable group of all is the elderly population.


Allergies can make you feel lousy, but not in the same way as the coronavirus does. Allergies can happen any time of year but are worse during the spring and fall when pollen is thick in the air. Here are common allergy symptoms that some people experience:

• Itchy or sore throat
• Sneezing
• Nasal congestion
• Runny nose
• Itchy eyes
• Fatigue
• Cough
• Wheezing

Allergy sufferers, including seniors, usually know when their allergies are triggered, and the good news is that most symptoms do respond to medical treatment. If you or your loved one gets the same reaction at the same time of year, and medicine helps, chances are good that you are looking at allergies and not Covid-19.

The symptoms that Covid-19 and allergies share are mainly a dry cough, sore throat, and fatigue. It’s important that you consider any other symptoms to see if you fall into either category.

Moving Forward

If you and your senior are unsure if it is Covid-10 or allergies, get tested or talk to your medical provider. There is nothing like a negative Covid test to help you breathe a sigh of relief. You and your senior, as well as caregivers, other family members, and friends, should also continue to heed advice from the CDC about virus prevention. That means you should still wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and wear a mask, unless you are at home in a small gathering, and everyone has been vaccinated. Think of it this way: at least with a mask on, you are breathing in less pollen.

Hopefully, you can help inform your father and calm his fears while keeping him and others safe.

Good luck and stay healthy!


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