When a Cough is Just a Cough, Not COVID-19


June 26, 2020

allergies vs covid 19 | emindful.com

Experiencing Allergy Season Alongside COVID-19

We’re still experiencing the first wave of the novel Coronavirus, and with the onset of summer comes another set of symptoms that affect your health – seasonal allergies. Depending on where you live, seasonal allergies can last from the onset of spring well into the summer. And with everyone still assessing themselves and others for signs of illness, it can be easy to become hyper-aware of someone who’s sneezing, coughing, or experiencing symptoms of sickness around you. 

While we all want to protect ourselves and our loved ones, confronting our own biases and knowing the difference between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies is not only helpful for your own health but can also help you be more compassionate to those around you who may be experiencing allergy symptoms.

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Being Aware of Your Own Biases Toward Others

Typically, when someone sneezes near you, you’d go about your day unphased. But during the age of Coronavirus, even with social distancing guidelines in place, people can become nervous when someone around them is exhibiting symptoms of not feeling well. The spread of Coronavirus can make it easy to make assumptions about others who appear sick. These assumptions about others can become deeply embedded in our thoughts and emotions and can also influence our behavior.

While it’s not always easy to confront our own beliefs and biases, using mindfulness to bring attention to one’s thoughts and practicing curiosity and kindness can help to see the world differently. This creates more space to see and understand others. It’s so  important to remember that this is a time of heightened stress for everyone, so accepting that the person sneezing next to you may be experiencing seasonal allergies can help you move through public situations with more tolerance and compassion.

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Understanding Allergy Symptoms Vs Coronavirus

In addition to enhancing your mindfulness skills to adapt a nonjudgmental mindset toward others,  it can also be helpful to understand the distinct symptoms of both COVID-19 and allergies.

More than 50 million Americans experience allergies every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The most common allergy symptoms are:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Throat clearing
  • Nasal congestion

Allergies can also include dry cough and lack of energy, which can be confused as symptoms of Coronavirus. The primary set of symptoms associated with Coronavirus are:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath/trouble breathing

Although there can be a small overlap between the two sets of symptoms, these illnesses can also be clearly distinguished from each other. Sneezing, runny nose, and “itchy” symptoms are tell-tale signs of allergies, whereas the presence of a fever, respiratory issues, and “achy” symptoms are more commonly associated with COVID-19.

If you’re assessing your own health, it’s important to remember that seasonal allergies tend to happen around the same time every year, so if you experience the same symptoms now as you did during this time last year, allergies may be responsible. Those who have asthma can also have their breathing affected by allergies, so managing your asthma and knowing what’s normal for your body can help you identify when you need medical advice from your primary care provider.

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Add More Compassion to Your Everyday with Mindfulness Practice

As we move through this wave of Coronavirus together, applying tolerance and diverse thinking can be a positive way to be kind to those around you. If you’re finding yourself feeling impatient or having a difficult time accepting the perspectives of others, adding a mindfulness practice to your daily schedule can give you the skills you need to feel more present and calm throughout the day.

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