Is It Allergies…or Something Worse?

Here’s How to Tell the Difference

These days, with every sneeze or cough we wonder, is it allergies? A cold? The flu? Or COVID-19? And springtime brings the sniffles as millions of people suffer from common (and unpleasant but mostly harmless) allergies.

Seasonal allergies are the immune system’s responses when it is triggered by exposure to allergens, such as seasonal tree or grass pollens, mold, dust, or pet dander. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can occur seasonally or be present all year long.

It’s likely you have seasonal allergies—and not something worse—if:

  • You get seasonal allergies every year.
  • Your eyes and/or nose are itchy.
  • You can reduce your symptoms by avoiding what causes them (for example, staying indoors when pollen counts are high).
  • You get relief from symptoms with over-the-counter medications (antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal corticosteroid sprays).

If over-the counter medications don’t help, talk to a doctor. A prescription medication may be right for you, or your doctor may recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots).

  • MDLIVE gives you 24/7 virtual access to a doctor by phone, secure video, or the MDLIVE app. There is no cost to you. To get started, download the MDLIVE app, go to, or call 1 (888) 725-3097.
  • See an in-network doctor or specialist. Talk with your primary care provider or search for an allergist on You may be able to meet with a doctor online or by phone to discuss your symptoms. You’ll pay your usual office visit copay.
  • Save on allergy products, such as air filtration products, mattress protectors and saline solutions. Sign in on and click on Regence Advantages.


Use this chart to see what condition you likely have. If your temperature is over 100.5° F, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor to get advice and ask if you should have a COVID-19 test.

Nasal CongestionYesYesSometimesSometimes
Runny NoseYesYesSometimesRarely
Itchy/Watery EyesYesNoNoNo
Sore ThroatSometimesYesYesSometimes
Body AchesRarelyYesYesYes
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