Is it seasonal allergies or COVID-19? Here are some symptoms to watch for

Oak pollen is peaking, COVID is slighting rising, causing confusion for allergy sufferers

SAN ANTONIO - – For the past week in San Antonio, oak pollen levels are at their highest of the year.

Numbers are on par with other years, but that doesn’t comfort allergy sufferers right now as oak reaches its peak.

“Most of San Antonio is basically covered with yellow dust right now, causing a lot of itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing,” said Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease expert with University Health and UT Health San Antonio.

Dr. Bowling explained in past interviews that some of the omicron COVID-19 variant’s symptoms mimicked allergy symptoms.

With omicron subvariants still the main strains circulating, this continues to be the case.

“We’re seeing more cough, maybe sore throat and some runny nose. We’re not seeing what we saw in the beginning of the pandemic where people would have high fever, upper chest pain, shortness of breath. We still see that occasionally but less frequently than we did at the beginning,” Bowling said.

Bowling said warning signs that you should get a COVID-19 test include:

  • Fever
  • Significant fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell

He said it’s important to look for those symptoms as cases begin to rise, even if just slightly.

“Even in San Antonio, there’s a little bit of an uptick. Our test positivity bumped up to 3.7% from 2%, so we are seeing increased cases of COVID. We just had a large two-week party in San Antonio, so people have been around,” he said.

So when in doubt, grab a COVID-19 test or head to the doctor.

Even if it’s not COVID-19, it could be the flu or another type of infection.

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.