Symptom Confusion? You're Not Alone With Allergy Season Here

Sept. 23, 2021, 2:45 p.m. ·

Dr. Michael Schoof with CHI Health
Dr. Michael Schoof with CHI Health. (Photo from Zoom)

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Fall allergy season has arrived in Nebraska, and along with the flu and other illnesses like COVID, it can be difficult to figure out what you have. Doctors say it’s even confusing for them.

Over the last year and half of the pandemic, a case of the sniffles or a sore throat has turned into full-blown panic for some who weren’t sure if they had COVID or not. Doctors said it’s understandable because things like strep, the flu, colds and allergies often have similar symptoms, so it’s hard to tell.

“Sore throat, nasal congestion, nasal drainage, cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, body aches and even abdominal symptoms can go along with several of these as well,” CHI Health Primary Care Medical Director Dr. Michael Schoof said. “There’s a large overlap of symptoms between all of these illnesses and even allergies.”

He said we are entering a part of the year where a lot of the common illnesses are becoming an issue again, and mixed with COVID, can lead to a lot of confusion.

“Most of what we’re seeing in addition to COVID is strep throat and we’re seeing a decent amount of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, both in children and adults and then some other viral illnesses,” Schoof said. “There really hasn’t been any influenza reported yet in Nebraska, but we do expect that will come to us sometime in the next two months or so.”

He said with strep, pain is usually concentrated in the throat and the flu is usually comes with a distinct and sudden onset of symptoms. He said if you lose your sense of smell or taste, there’s a good chance it’s COVID. Schoof said unless any of the symptoms are severe, it’s not a good idea to go to the emergency room and you should instead see your primary care physician or visit another non-emergency clinic to find out what you have.