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Fort Worth, Texas,
16:08 PM

Allergies or COVID-19? How to Tell the Difference.

It’s allergy season in Texas! (Isn’t it always allergy season in Texas?)

But, unfortunately, we also are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed fever, cough and shortness of breath as the primary symptoms of COVID-19. Recently the CDC updated its list of possible symptoms of COVID to include: chills, shaking chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

In addition, I continue to see cases of strep throat here and there in the office as well.

I know right now nothing is routine and it’s understandable to be worried at the first sign of a sneeze. So let’s take a look at the COVID symptoms and how they compare with either allergies or strep:

Symptom COVID-19 Allergies Strep Throat
Fever Usually No Usually
Cough Yes Sometimes No
Shortness of Breath Yes Rarely No
Chills Sometimes No Sometimes
Sore Throat Sometimes Sometimes Yes

So, how do we know the difference?

COVID-19 generally presents with fever, cough and shortness of breath. In addition, as testing becomes more prevalent, a known exposure raises the risk significantly.

Allergies can cause cough and sore throat, but usually also cause runny nose and watery, itchy eyes. If fever is present, infections such as strep, sinus, ear infections and yes, COVID-19 would be considered.

Strep throat usually presents with fever and sore throat but, if cough and congestion are present, it is very unlikely.

Sometimes it’s not obvious at first glance what is causing your symptoms, and in these uncertain times it’s important to contact your pediatrician if you have concerns.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Stay safe,

Doc Smitty

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at

He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click here to make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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