Illinois' top public health official warned Wednesday that people should take notice of any potential coronavirus symptoms as they could be confused with seasonal allergies.
"I keep hearing from my contact tracers at the local health departments that they're hearing the same story over and over: 'I had no idea that I was positive. The symptoms I had I thought were allergy symptoms. I never would have thought it was COVID,'" Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday.
Similar symptoms can have seasonal allergy suffers questioning whether it's just pollen or something more. Many garden-variety hay fever sufferers, of whom there are about 19 million adults in the U.S., are also on heightened alert.
Seasonal allergies can often bring with them a cough and runny nose - both of which can be associated with some coronavirus cases - but they also bring itchy or watery eyes and sneezing, symptoms that are uncommon in coronavirus patients.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple weeks. For others, it may cause no symptoms at all. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
"So please don't overlook those allergy-like symptoms," Ezike said. "COVID can look like so many things."
According to the CDC, the list of coronavirus symptoms includes:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting