It’s that time of year again.  Runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat.  Ugh!  Anyone with seasonal allergies has probably experienced the “Is it allergies or is it a cold?” conundrum when the symptoms weren’t so clearly just allergic.  Unfortunately, the appearance of COVID-19 has changed that situation dramatically. 

Before, if you chose the wrong answer it might have caused inconvenience for others, but now the consequences of guessing wrong could be severe.  It might also mean that you don’t receive the care you need in a timely fashion, which could make a big difference in the course of your illness. 

It must, therefore, be said first and foremost that if you develop any new symptoms, contact a health-care practitioner or your local public health resource for testing, treatment, and guidance specific to you and your situation.  While you wait for that answer, stay away from shared spaces and other people, wash your hands often, and wear a mask until you know for sure what is causing your symptoms. 

Allergies or not? 

That said, there are several signs and symptoms that can provide a clear indication that you are dealing with something other than an allergy and inform your use of safeguards like masks and isolation in your home:   

  1. Fever – Allergies do not typically cause a fever, so if you have a fever, your symptoms are not likely related to an allergy alone.  Fever, often accompanied by chills, is common with COVID-19 and other contagious diseases.  
  2. CoughSeasonal allergies don’t usually involve coughing.   When they do, it tends to be the result of upper respiratory (from the neck up) irritation, such as might occur with post-nasal drip.  Many individuals develop a dry cough with COVID-19 infection, which tends to involve the lower respiratory tract (the chest).  
  3. Shortness of breath – Unless you have allergic asthma, seasonal allergies can make it difficult to get air through your nose , although they don’t usually affect your lungs, so you can typically still get a good breath through your mouth.   If you are experiencing trouble getting air into your lungs, feel like you are not able to get enough air, or feel pressure in your chest, then seek medical attention right away.  
  4. Nausea or diarrhea – Although food allergies can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, seasonal allergies generally do not.  Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are associated with COVID-19.  
  5. Malaise or fatigue – Seasonal allergies are bothersome, and prolonged allergic inflammation without relief can be mentally exhausting, but the doldrums from allergies are mild compared to the feelings of malaise and fatigue that often accompany symptomatic COVID-19 infection.  
  6. Loss of taste and smell – Seasonal allergies can blunt your sense of smell somewhat when your nose is all clogged up, but a common early sign of COVID-19 infection is a significant loss of smell and taste.  This is particularly common in less symptomatic individuals.  
  7. Little to no relief from your usual allergy remedies – Sufferers from seasonal allergies typically have a favorite strategy to alleviate their allergy symptoms.  If you have tried your favorite antihistamine or other allergy remedy and your symptoms are not responding, there is a good chance that something other than your typical allergy is causing them.  

Not everyone who gets COVID-19 will have the same symptoms, so having or not having a particular symptom doesn’t rule COVID-19 in or out.   Ruling out seasonal allergies as an explanation for your symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID-19.   Colds, influenza, and many other illnesses can cause similar symptoms.  The only way to know for sure is a test.  

It is also possible to have seasonal allergies and a contagious illness at the same time.  Applying the mitigation measures that have been recommended for COVID-19 whenever you have any symptoms can reduce the spread of COVID-19 as well as other infections, keeping your loved ones and your community healthier and safer.  

Seasonal Allergies 

After you have determined that your symptoms are due to seasonal allergies, you might be wondering what you can do to help your body struggle less during this season.  As always, drinking plenty of fluids (especially water), getting enough rest and exercise, and eating nutritious foods are the foundation of wellness.  But, is there anything else you can do? Yes.

Looking for a science-based viewpoint on exercise? Check out our articles about exercise for tips, tricks, strategies to get more of it, and information about how to make the most of your efforts.

If you’re having trouble getting good sleep, check out our articles on sleep, take advantage of Thorne's Sleep Test to learn more about what might be interfering with your sleep, and check out our Sleep Bundle to support quality sleep.

An allergic response occurs because antigens catch the attention of the immune system, specifically mast cells.   Mast cells release histamine, which triggers the symptoms commonly associated with seasonal allergies – runny nose, itchy throat, watery eyes.

Quercetin, a flavonoid commonly found in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and some teas, down-regulates mast cell activity by stabilizing their membranes, which limits the amount of histamine they release.*  Quercetin also exhibits antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from the oxidative damage that accompanies inflammation.*  

Eating quercetin-containing foods like apples, onions, seeds, nuts, and berries can support your immune system.  In addition, Thorne’s Quercetin Phytosome provides a convenient source of high-quality quercetin that is complexed with sunflower-sourced phospholipids to enhance absorption.

Because phospholipids are a major component of cell membranes, binding a quercetin molecule to phospholipid molecules makes it easier for the quercetin to be absorbed; the phytosome passes from your gut into your body much more easily than quercetin that is not bound to a phospholipid. And the phospholipids provide cell membrane-building blocks at the same time.* 

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that works in conjunction with quercetin.*  Thorne offers vitamin C supplements in several forms to suit your needs and preferences – Buffered C Powder, Ascorbic Acid, or vitamin C combined with Flavonoids.  

It is best to seek the advice of a health-care practitioner whenever you have questions about your health.  This is especially true now because there is no single set of symptoms that makes it easy to discern COVID-19 from other illnesses. 

Health-care practitioners are best equipped to determine if you need testing and what the best course of action is to address your symptoms from any cause.  If you have any reason to believe you are infected with the COVID-19 virus, keep away from others and contact your preferred health-care practitioner or your local public health resource for assistance and testing.  

An important note: No dietary supplement can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, including COVID-19. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to understand that no dietary supplement, no diet, and no lifestyle modifications – other than the recommended social distancing and hygiene practices – can prevent you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus. No current research supports the use of any dietary supplement to protect you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus.