Business Insider Edition

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

Holly Secon , Business Insider US
 Mar 25, 2020, 01:32 PM
Crystal Cox/Business Insider
  • Sneezing and runny noses are not common symptoms of Covid-19, the disease the coronavirus causes.
  • It's a misconception that nasal symptoms are common - instead, the most common symptoms are fever and a dry cough.
  • The virus has infected more than 417,000 people and killed more than 18,500.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

If you see someone coughing or 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:

Shayanne 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 Organization 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.

The US still lags behind in testing capacity compared to other countries like China and South Korea. However, after weeks of delays in producing and distributing tests, the US is now beginning to ramp up its testing: More than 350,000 Americans have been tested for the coronavirus, according to the Covid-19 Tracking Project, a resource from journalists at The Atlantic and the founder of a medical-data startup. That's up from just 10,000 on March 12.

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