Lakiea Wright, MD: Differentiating Between Allergies, COVID-19, and Flu

September 21, 2020

Distinguishing factors between the 3.

Providers, experts, and patients alike are preparing for a combination of allergies, influenza (flu), and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks. That means healthcare providers and patients are poised for potential threats from various places, and there is a great need to be able to differentiate between all 3.

Flu and COVID-19 present similarly because they are both viral illnesses that can cause respiratory symptoms, Lakiea Wright, MD, allergy and immunology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a recent interview with HCPLive®. Although flu and COVID-19 are similar, there are distinguishing factors between such viruses and allergies.

The CDC recently published a Venn diagram to help identify some overlapping and distinguishing factors.

For example, when talking about environmental allergies, fever is not associated, so it would not typically indicate solely allergies. Itchy and watery eyes and sneezing are typical of allergies but not flu or COVID-19.

Other distinguishing factors like body and muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of taste and smell could help indicate flu and COVID-19.

Fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and shortness of breath all overlap in 1 way or another, Wright said.

“So, it’s really important to focus on those distinguishing factors I mentioned,” she concluded.