Red, Itchy Eyes: Coronavirus or Allergies?

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United States, so too have seasonal allergies, leaving many people feeling anxious about their symptoms. Headaches, stuffy nose, and sore throat are all common symptoms associated with both the coronavirus and allergies. 

So, how can you tell if your symptoms are a sign of COVID-19 or allergies? 

How to Tell If It’s Allergies or COVID-19

One key difference between coronavirus and seasonal allergies is a fever. Seasonal allergies are not associated with a fever. However, a fever is a common symptom of coronavirus. If you’re concerned about your symptoms, be sure to check your temperature. Other possible coronavirus symptoms not associated with allergies include diarrhea and nausea.

Coronavirus and Conjunctivitis

Recent studies have indicated that some patients with the coronavirus may develop conjunctivitis or viral pink eye. However, seasonal allergies can cause the same symptoms. So, how can you tell the difference?

Allergic conjunctivitis typically affects both eyes with itching, burning, and redness. You may also experience itchiness and puffiness around the eyes, and will likely experience other allergy symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing. 

Viral conjunctivitis, on the other hand, often only affects one eye. It is typically associated with burning, redness, and a watery discharge. Viral conjunctivitis would be concerning to your doctor, if accompanied by other coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, extreme fatigue, trouble breathing, or chest pain. 

If your eye irritation is accompanied by coronavirus symptoms, call your healthcare provider immediately, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain. 

Protect Your Eyes from the Coronavirus

Keep in mind that while the coronavirus isn’t always accompanied by eye irritation, it can be transmitted via your eyes. Your eyes can be exposed to virus particles that spray when someone coughs, or by touching an infected surface and then rubbing your eye. 

This is why it’s so important to social distance. If you must go out, wearing glasses can help reduce exposure. You should also avoid touching your eyes.

What to Do For Your Eye Irritation

If your eye irritation is not accompanied by the main coronavirus symptoms listed above, try treating your allergy symptoms as you normally would. Consult your doctor if symptoms do not improve.

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