Sneezing is not a common coronavirus symptom — here's how to differentiate the virus from allergies

Crystal Cox/Business Insider

If you see someone sneezing on the street and are scared they might have the coronavirus, remember: Sneezing is not a common symptom of COVID-19.

Instead, the primary signs of COVID-19 are fever and a dry cough. Other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, body aches, coughing, shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal issues.

Here are the symptoms associated with COVID-19 and how they compare with symptoms of the common cold, the flu, and allergies:

Covid 19 compared to other common conditions tableShayanne Gal/Business Insider

For many people, the arrival of spring brings allergies. Seasonal allergy symptoms frequently include sneezing and congestion, as well as itchy eyes.

But for COVID-19 patients, congestion only occurs in 4.8% of cases, according to a World Health Organisation report that looked at about 56,000 Chinese COVID-19 patients. Much more common symptoms of the coronavirus include fever (in 87.9% of the cases studied), dry cough (67.7% of cases), and fatigue (38.1%).

Still, the overlap between symptoms of COVID-19 and symptoms of other common conditions is in part why widespread testing is necessary. Plus, someone could have both coronavirus and allergies simultaneously.

After delays in producing and distributing tests, the US has ramped up its testing: More than 2.8 million Americans have been tested for the coronavirus, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a resource from journalists at The Atlantic and the founder of a medical-data startup. That’s up from just 10,000 a month ago, on March 12.

If you suspect you have the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that you contact your healthcare provider to arrange a test.

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