COVID-19, Allergies, or a Cold? First Steps for Determining Illness

Posted on May 29, 2020

Category: Signs and Symptoms

Getting sick is never a fun time… but right now, during the coronavirus outbreak, showing any kind of symptoms can be a stressful experience. Just the smallest tickle in the throat or breathing difficulty could send anyone into hesitation.

It doesn’t help that common sickness symptoms are similar to the coronavirus symptoms. The flu season is just nearing its end and seasonal allergies are beginning to flare. Though many symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to common sicknesses, there are some stark differences. We’ll go over the differences between the coronavirus, the common cold and seasonal allergies.

Knowing the differences between these ailments could be the difference between life and death.


The severity of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is large. Compared to the common flu, COVID-19’s mortality rate is much higher. The common flu generally kills few than 1% of those infected. Nationally, around 5.7% of those affected with COVID-19 have died. Here are the symptoms you should look out for.


The more common and severe symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Fatigue and loss of appetite are also common but aren’t that much of a threat to one’s health. Less common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and a lack of taste or smell. Some infected people may experience no symptoms at all.

Symptoms usually appear within five days after exposure, but may take up to 14 days. If all or most of your symptoms fall in line with the those of COVID-19, contact your personal health professionals and get tested upon their recommendation. Be sure to stay home as much as possible if you are experiencing these symptoms. Self-isolating is a great way of slowing the spread of the virus.


The easiest way to determine if you have allergies, is if you’ve had them before. Allergies are caused by a response in the immune system and are, thankfully, not contagious. Some common spring allergies include: a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing. Unlike, the coronavirus or common colds, allergies don’t naturally go away unless they are treated or you are removed from your trigger. Triggers could include pollen, mold and animal dander.

Common Colds

Everyone’s had the common cold and some of you may have had one recently. Some of the key symptoms of the common cold include a runny nose, sore throat, headache, sneezing.

Severe symptoms like shortness of breath and fever, which are symptoms of COVID-19, are NOT common symptoms of the common cold. Another easy way to differentiate between the cold and COVID-19, is its duration. The common cold will usually resolve after a week of onset symptoms.


Just like the flu or the common cold, the coronavirus is spread from person to person through close contact. Sneezing or coughing is an easy way to spread the virus. Tiny droplets containing the virus can easily be inhaled. These droplets are heavy, though, and cannot travel that far, and that’s why people should stay at least 6 feet away from each other in public.

The virus is also known to be able to live on surface, but a whole lot of information is still unknown. Be sure to regularly wash your hands, since people can become infected after touching dirty surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

At the start of any pandemic, your travel history can provide important information whether you’ve likely contracted the disease or not. If your community is already dealing with the spread of the virus, it’s even harder to pinpoint where you’ve contracted it.


Currently, there is no antiviral medicine that’s recommended to treat COVID-19. Research is still ongoing and various drugs are being studied for COVID-19 treatment. There are options for relieving symptoms, though. If diagnosed, be sure to have lots of fluid intake, plenty of rest and take over-the-counter pain relievers or cough medicine if necessary.

Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a vaccine available for COVID-19, since it is such a new virus. Developing a vaccine takes time. That’s why the best way to treat COVID-19 is to prevent it.


According to the CDC, these are the best ways to prevent the spread:

  • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid crowds of any size
  • Keep at least 6 feet away from other people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Cover mouth when sneezing/coughing

Contracting the coronavirus doesn’t have to be a troublesome experience. Fortunately, many people who contract the disease are able to recover at home, and a majority of those infected experience mild to moderate symptoms. But if your symptoms are severe and troublesome, contact your health professionals immediately. Sioux Falls Urgent Care is available seven days a week. Call now at (605) 444-8860.