by Audrey Anderson, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Marc Goldstein, MD, Curist Medical Advisor
Could Sneezing be a Symptom of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Many of us are monitoring ourselves for symptoms that we suspect could be caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19). Should we be concerned if we find ourselves sneezing?
Common Symptoms of Coronavirus
Common symptoms caused by coronavirus are fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and achiness. Although sneezing has been reported in individuals with coronavirus, it’s not nearly as common as the other symptoms mentioned. Odds are, if you don’t have any of the other symptoms particularly fever and no close contacts (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) with the virus, your sneezing is likely not from coronavirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
What’s Making You Sneeze? COVID-19? Allergies? Cold?
While not an exhaustive list, here’s some reasons why you might be sneezing:
- Allergies: Sneezing is a symptom of allergies. Check out the Coronavirus vs Allergies article by Dr. Marc Goldstein, MD, to learn how to tell the difference between allergies and coronavirus.
- Dust and dirt: If you find yourself sneezing during your spring cleaning, it could simply be from all the dust and dirt that was just kicked up into the air.
- Cold and dry air: some states are still pretty chilly. All of that cold and dry air can irritate your nasal passages and make you sneeze.
- Colds and other upper respiratory tract infections (besides COVID-19): sneezing is a common symptom of the common cold.
- To learn more about differentiating between colds and allergies, check out Colds vs Allergies.
- Nasal sprays: commonly used intranasal sprays like fluticasone (big brand Flonase and available at Curist) and azelastine (Astelin) can occasionally irritate the nasal passages enough to cause immediate sneezing after use.
- To learn more, check out Know Your Nose: Nasal Steriod Sprays.
Is My Sneeze A Sign of Coronavirus or Allergies?
If you do have a sneeze, here’s a few tips to determine if your sneeze is coronavirus or allergies:
- Typically allergy-related sneezes happen in quick, uncontrollable fits. Sneezing associated with coronavirus is typically more infrequent, is not a rapid-fire of sneezes, and occurs with the other coronavirus symptoms.
- To learn more about these sneezing fits, check out Uncontrollable Sneezing Fits: Why Can't I Stop Sneezing.
- Notice how you feel this allergy season versus prior seasons. Pay attention to see if your sneeze and symptoms feel different than in prior years.
- Try taking your allergy medicines to treat sneezing. If your sneezing goes away after taking allergy medicines, that suggests that the sneezing is related to allergies, especially if you do not have the other coronavirus symptoms. At this time, it is particularly important to take your allergy medicine because your allergy symptoms may be misinterpreted as coronavirus. Remember allergies, and sneezing from allergies, are not contagious.
Coronavirus: Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself From COVID-19 If You Or Others Are SneezingPlease note that allergies are not contagious so if some with allergies sneezes near you (and they do not have coronavirus), you are not at risk to contract either allergies or coronavirus. In contrast, coronavirus is contagious and can be passed through sneezes. Here’s a few steps to protect yourself and others.
- Cover your sneeze. Sneeze into either your elbow or a tissue that can be thrown away in a closed container. Wear a mask. Learn more about different types of masks in our article Coronavirus Masks.
- Wash your hands. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. This kills the coronavirus.
- Find symptom relief. If you think that your sneezing might be due to allergies, take Curist’s two-minute quiz to be matched with the right products for your symptoms and check out our article Allergies vs Coronavirus: How to Tell the Difference?.
- Seek medical attention. If you have symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath, seek emergency medical attention. If you have reason to believe that you may have COVID-19, call your healthcare provider for further direction.
For more information about coronavirus, please visit the CDC website. As always, if you are not feeling well, please reach out to your medical provider or call 911.