Allergies, Cold, or Coronavirus?

It’s springtime in Houston – the weather has warmed, and all the trees are leafing out. Which means that many Houstonians are suffering from seasonal allergies- especially those who are allergic to tree pollen, which is extremely high. In addition to the regular seasonal cold and flu, the current coronavirus situation has many Houstonians concerned about whether they might actually be sick. Here are some tips to help you identify whether what you are experiencing is seasonal allergies, the cold, the flu, or possibly coronavirus.


Allergies are the result of an immune response to a foreign object. In the case of seasonal airborne allergies, the response is to pollen or mold spores. Allergic reactions vary widely from person to person. Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:

  • Itchy nose, eyes, roof of the mouth – this is not common with colds
  • Runny, drippy, or stuffy nose with clear and watery mucus
  • Sneezing
  • Rarely, a mildly sore throat, due to sinus drainage
  • Mild coughing caused by tickling in the throat
  • Watery, red, or swollen eyes

While having an allergic reaction can certainly make you feel bad and appear to be sick, you are not ill and not contagious. With allergies, you will not run a fever. Your symptoms will not likely intensify, nor will they clear up until the pollen subsides. 


Cold & Flu:
Cold and flu are illnesses caused by a virus. There are many, many strains of the cold and flu viruses, which means it is possible to contract these viruses yearly or even multiple times a year. Sometimes the symptoms are similar to allergies, but there are a few symptoms that can help you to identify if you have a cold or the flu:

  • Fever – you will not run a fever from allergies
  • Runny nose – mucus will quickly color and get thicker due to infection
  • General aches and pains – most common with the flu, and sometimes present with colds, you will not experience this with allergies

Other symptoms you may experience, that are similar to allergy symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
cartoon man wearing face mask

So, what about Coronavirus?
COVID-19, what is being commonly referred to as ‘Coronavirus’, is actually one strain of coronavirus that has been spreading rapidly across the globe. The symptoms are similar to flu and pneumonia, and onset sometime between 2-14 days after exposure. Predominant symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Because there is no treatment for COVID-19, mild symptoms can be treated at home with extra fluids and fever reducers, unless you are experiencing emergency symptoms, which include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Chest pressure
  • Confusion or lethargy
  • Bluish tinge to lips or face

If you are experiencing emergency symptoms, seek medical attention, and please call the facility you intend to visit.

Neighbors Emergency Center is open during this time for any and all adult and pediatric emergencies. We are screening all patients for signs of COVID-19 symptoms.  We have a significant amount of information regarding COVID-19 and our centers, available on this page. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 in Texas, you can contact the Texas DSHS call center from 7am – 8pm, 7 days per week by dialing 2‑1‑1, then choosing Option 6.

Or you can email: