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It’s finally Spring! Yes, real Spring! 

Not the hide-n-seek, fooled-you-again early Spring that makes us think we’re in the clear and then slaps us in the face with another wintry mix, cold spell. And with the flowers in full bloom, the trees newly painted green leaves dancing in the breeze, and the birds singing their wake-up symphony for all to hear, we can finally put away our winter sweaters and break out the tank tops and flip-flops.

And tissue.

Because with the Spring, comes seasonal allergies. 

And possibly colds… Maybe even the flu that’s still lingering around.

And Covid-19.

(Well, Covid-19 isn’t Spring related, but it’s here to stay, at least for the time being, so we’re going to lump it in with this season’s sicknesses, albeit an intruder in whatever season we find ourselves.)

So how can you tell the difference between seasonal allergies, the common cold, flu, and the monster novel coronavirus?

They all have overlapping symptoms. They all can be mild or vicious. At the very least, in this season of uncertainty, they all can leave you very confused about what to do and when to call the doctor. With that, let’s take a look at the symptoms of each.


  • Runny nose and nasal congestion.
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Sneezing.
  • Cough.
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat.
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Postnasal drip.
  • Fatigue.

Common cold:

  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Sore throat.
  • Cough.
  • Congestion.
  • Slight body aches or a mild headache.
  • Sneezing.
  • Low-grade fever.
  • Generally feeling unwell (malaise)


  • Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Aching muscles.
  • Chills and sweats.
  • Headache.
  • Dry, persistent cough.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Sore throat.


Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Other symptoms can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of smell or taste.

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that examined cases in China in February 2020 shed more light on these symptoms. That report found that around 88% of COVID-19 patients had a fever and 68% had a dry cough

It seems nearly impossible to tell what you could be suffering from. It’s a matter of looking at all of the symptoms as a whole. If you know that you deal with seasonal allergies every year, then it is likely that your symptoms are specifically related to just that — allergies. 

If you deal with asthma, then you know the warning signs of a flare-up. Seasonal allergies can be a major trigger for major flare-ups. Keep your asthma in check and controlled. 

On the other hand, if you experience a fever that isn’t going down, or worse, continues to spike upwards, it’s time to call your doc! There’s no harm in making a phone call. Likewise, go straight to the ER if you experience any of the following:

The bottom line is to monitor your symptoms. You know your body and how it reacts to the environment and sickness. If you notice something that doesn’t “feel” right, don’t ignore your gut. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you need some clarity or reassurance, go ahead and reach out to your healthcare provider. Telemedicine (talking to doctors on the phone) is nearly universally available, and with the addition of video calling available to anyone with a smartphone, you have no reason not to reach out to a professional.

Even though we find ourselves in this season of the unknown, we still have hope and can maintain our peace. The Spring season attests to that. Vibrant colors are starting to burst forth. New songs are being sung. New life is beginning to breathe. Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, is this coming Sunday, reminding us that death has ultimately been defeated. We will get through this season. Hope never disappoints.

 If Spring has taught us anything, it’s that life always wins.