Health and Wellness


With the rainy season, it’s so hard to tell which symptom is for what. Is it seasonal allergy? A common flu? Or is it, just maybe, the coronavirus? Let’s know the difference.

/ 28 October 2020

During this continuing quarantine, do you ever just wake up with a stuffy nose and can’t help but think whether or not you got the virus? It doesn’t really help when you have allergic rhinitis too and often find yourself sneezing way too much than usual (or so you think).

With such a wide range of similar symptoms and the rainy season, it’s so hard to tell what causes what. Is it seasonal allergy? Common flu? Or is it the feared virus?

“Not all symptoms are created equally, while it might seem like you have Coronavirus, you may simply be experiencing seasonal allergies or influenza,” said Lindsey Elmore, PharmD, a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist.

There are some key differences between seasonal allergy, a flu, and COVID-19. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than the flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. 

You can always tell which is which by paying attention to what your body is going through. Here’s a quick look at how you can know the difference.



Seasonal influenza or Flu is still active and generally comes and goes. It’s a common respiratory infection caused by a virus that affects your nose, throat, and lungs and can last from 5 to 7 days. It’s more likely to present with a fever, fatigue, dry cough, and body aches and pains, including headache. Diarrhea is rare, except in children. While a runny nose and sore throat occur occasionally, sneezing and shortness of breath are also very rare with the flu. Shortness of breath can happen, but only in advanced disease. 


Seasonal Allergies

The typical symptoms for seasonal allergies include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, or rash. In rare cases, cough, rashes, fatigue, sore throat and headache may also present. While fever, diarrhea, and aches and pains are very uncommon. Shortness of breath is also rare except in uncommon life-threatening circumstances.



The hallmark symptoms of the Coronavirus include dry cough and fever. Shortness of breath is much more common than either flu or allergies. In about 10%, diarrhea occurs, sore throat and fatigue may also occur. While aches and pains are less common than the flu, it can happen. Lastly, sneezing and a runny nose are uncommon symptoms.

However, getting a Coronavirus test is the only way to confirm whether or not you have it.

Another important difference is there are over-the-counter medicine for the seasonal allergies and a vaccine to protect against flu. However, there’s currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 or fight against it.

Ultimately, this article doesn’t intend to self-diagnose whether you have a flu, allergies, or coronavirus. You have to understand that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to symptoms, as our body reacts slightly differently from one another.

Some people may have no symptoms at all. But by having a good understanding of the differences, you can listen to your body and make informed decisions about getting a doctor’s appointment. If you feel something unusual, it’s always better to call your doctor and talk about your concerns.

Remember, do not self-medicate. And an expert opinion is, and will always be more reliable that any opinion you will read somewhere. Stay informed, and be safe.