Allergies or virus? Here’s how to tell the difference

ATLANTA — With the pollen count rising, many people have allergy symptoms and may worry they have coronavirus.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon was in Marietta, where the pollen count is rising.

Deon talked to an allergist about the similarities between allergies and viruses and how to tell which one you have.

Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist for Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, said that the spring allergy season runs between now and Memorial Day.

"Those are the time we're going to see tree pollens first, and then we'll see grass pollens follow it right away, usually late April through May," Fineman said.

Fineman said within the next week or so, we'll see the pollen count increase.

"With allergies, you see sneezing, you see nasal congestion, you see runny nose and itchy eyes," Fineman said. "A lot of itching."

Wes McDonald said he's been suffering with allergies since he was a kid, and it's this time of year the trees and grasses start to bother him.

"And then closer to about May, that’s when I’m like, 'OK, I’m in the clear now,' McDonald said. "And good couple of months around Easter, that’s just at the peak. I'm suffering!"

McDonald also has asthma and said he is trying to take a little more care of his lungs amid the coronavirus outbreak by using his steroid inhaler.

"So at least you're building up your armor to allergies and asthma, so then if you start suffering a little bit, then you know it’s something viral," McDonald said.

Fineman said most people who know they have allergies can tell their symptoms right away and can differentiate them from a virus.

"Viral symptoms are associated with fever, rundown feeling, malaise and fatigue," Fineman said.

Fineman said a fever is not associated with allergies, and while a virus could come with a cough, it is typically not accompanied by nasal congestion.

With coronavirus, you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath. While you may get a cough and fever with the flu, you will also likely have a sort throat, headaches, body or muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose and fatigue. Allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, scratchy throat and itchy or watery eyes.