COVID or the common cold? What to know about symptoms and when to get tested – NBC Chicago

As coronavirus measures continue to rise across the country, what should you know about your symptoms and when should you get tested?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the common cold, allergies, and coronavirus overlap in certain symptoms, such as the potential for coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache, sore throat and congestion.

Symptoms more associated with the coronavirus include fever, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Chicago health officials say it can be difficult to tell if symptoms are related to seasonal allergies, a cold, or the coronavirus, but getting tested is one way to find out. This includes people who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, experts say.

“Anyone with symptoms is the largest group of people to test,” said Dr. Isaac Ghinai, an epidemic intelligence officer in the Chicago Department of Public Health earlier this summer. “If you have symptoms of a possible COVID, whether it’s even a mild cough, you know, any of those types of mild symptoms, we would always recommend a COVID test. “

For some people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that go away within a few weeks. For others, it may not cause any symptoms. For some, the virus can cause more serious illness, including pneumonia and death.

Even those who receive the coronavirus vaccine can also contract the virus and show symptoms. Although rare, groundbreaking cases have been reported in Chicago and Illinois.

Most people vaccinated have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms, according to health officials, and the virus rarely causes hospitalization or death in these people.

Some residents who have contracted breakthrough infections have reported showing minor symptoms.

“I started to feel congested, similar to what I would feel if I had seasonal allergies,” Robert Flinn told NBC Chicago after contracting coronavirus while being fully vaccinated this summer.

But eventually, he said his symptoms developed into fever, fatigue and headaches.

“It’s like a really bad cold,” said fellow Chicago resident Robert Coy after contracting the virus following a trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts in July. “You might have a little cough, and you just feel tired and it’s not fun.”

The coronavirus and the common cold share many symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, diarrhea and nausea or vomiting are the only symptoms associated with coronavirus that do not overlap with the common cold.

The hospital also notes that while symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear two to 14 days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2, symptoms of a cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a virus causing a cold.

Last fall, Illinois’ top public health official warned people should be aware of any potential symptoms of coronavirus as they could be mistaken for seasonal allergies.

“I keep hearing from my contact tracers in local health departments that they hear the same story over and over again: ‘I didn’t know I was positive. The symptoms I was having, I thought were allergy symptoms. I never would have thought it was COVID, ”said at the time the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Seasonal allergies can sometimes be accompanied by a cough and a runny nose – both of which can be associated with some cases of coronavirus, or even the common cold – but they also cause itching or watery eyes and sneezing symptoms. uncommon in patients with coronavirus.

Allergies can sometimes be accompanied by a loss of taste or smell.

The CDC reports that exposure to pollen can trigger allergic reactions, such as symptoms of hay fever.

“Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, occurs when allergens like pollen enter your body and your immune system mistakenly identifies them as a threat,” says the CDC. “If you have allergic rhinitis, your body then responds to the allergen by releasing chemicals that can cause symptoms in your nose.”

Symptoms like these – which include sneezing, runny nose, and congestion – affect up to 60 million people a year in the United States, reports the CDC.

Exposure to pollen can also trigger symptoms of what is called allergic conjunctivitis, or “inflammation of the lining of the eye due to exposure to allergens such as pollen”.

“Allergic conjunctivitis is present in up to 30% of the general population and up to 7 in 10 patients with allergic rhinitis,” the CDC reports, adding that symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include red, watery, or watery eyes. itch.

Health officials say you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms and be extra careful.

“Please don’t overlook these allergic symptoms,” Ezike said. “COVID can sound like so many things.”

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