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Allergies or COVID? What medical experts want you to know

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DULUTH, MN--Coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes, we've all experienced them in one form or another.

"Typically, tree pollen here in Minnesota peaks around April to May," said Essentia Health allergist Dr. Minto Porter.

But in a time during a pandemic, people have become hyper-aware of their symptoms, some even confusing COVID symptoms with allergies.

It's important to pay attention to the timing of when your symptoms kick in.

"We do see allergy symptoms tend to be a little more gradual in their on-set," Porter adds. "Whereas a lot of people with COVID report that they wake one morning and feel like they were hit with a ton of bricks."

According to health experts, allergies tend to bring itchy sensations while COVID is more discomfort and irritating.
Where those symptoms are located in your respiratory system plays a big role in what it could be.

"Your typical seasonal allergy or year-round allergies will be more upper airway symptoms. More nasal congestion, sinus congestion, a lot of runny noses," said Porter.

Those runny noses can lead to a cough, but experts said a cough brought on by COVID will sound different.

"Most patients with COVID have had a dry kind of repetitive cough," she said. "Most patients will describe a burning in their airways, a burning in their lungs."

Health experts add at the end of the day if you aren't sure what it is, you should get tested for COVID and quarantine until you get your results.

We reached out to some northland school districts to learn how they're coping when students show symptoms that could be allergies or COVID.

They weren't available for an interview but told us they follow state and CDC guidelines when it comes to students showing any symptoms connected to COVID-19.

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Emma Quinn

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