Allergies, colds, the flu, and COVID-19 infections all create similar symptoms. However, each ailment differs in specific ways. Learning the difference increases the likelihood that patients use the correct precautions and obtain the correct treatment. 



COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is responsible for millions of global fatalities and 963,819 deaths in the United States. The organism spreads from one person to another when less than six feet apart by inhaling airborne droplets produced by the breathing, coughing, singing, talking, or sneezing of an infected individual. The organism may also spread by touching an infected surface and transmitting it by touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. Common COVID-19 symptoms include: 


  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Possible nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Generalized fatigue, which may become extreme
  • Varying degrees of muscle aches
  • Diminished smell and taste sensations minus other sinus symptoms
  • Breathing difficulty that may progress in severity


Common Flu 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recognizes four types of viruses that cause the flu. The A, B, C, along with the D viruses, exist. But, the A and B variants are responsible for causing seasonal cases. Each may be subdivided into different types. However, the A variant has been known to cause serious global pandemics. During the 2019-2020 flu season, influenza caused 20,000 fatalities in the United States. Typical flu symptoms include: 


  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Possible fever
  • Generalized fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Possible shortness of breath or breathing difficulty 
  • Possible nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea



Allergic reactions occur when the body’s immune system detects a foreign substance that it deems hazardous and initiates a response. An immune response may occur secondary to exposure to plants, pets, dust, or insect stings. Certain foods, chemicals, or physical materials may affect others. Allergy symptoms caused by various antigens typically cause respiratory or topical skin reactions. The malady is not contagious but affects approximately 20% of the population. Symptoms vary between individuals and different allergy categories. Allergic symptoms commonly include: 


  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, ears, nose, inner mouth, or skin
  • Reddened eyes, nose, or skin
  • Possible physical fatigue
  • Possible wheezing or breathing difficulty