By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As spring arrives so does allergy season which brings lots of coughing, sneezing and runny noses. Those can also be symptoms of COVID-19.

Many people are wondering — how do you know if you’re suffering from allergies or if it’s COVID-19?

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Itchiness is something that often comes with allergies, but not COVID-19. However, there are some similarities.

One study found that high pollen counts are associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection rates.

The daffodils are blooming around Logan Circle in Center City and the early buds are on trees. These are signs that spring pollen will be exploding soon — triggering allergies for millions of people.

Those allergy symptoms will be increasing as more people will head outside. Many were seen enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures along the Schuylkill River Monday.

Doctors say allergies and symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar and now with the virus increasing again in the region, people might get confused.

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“You can have coughs, you can have fatigue, headaches, sore throats and even some congestion,” said allergist Dr. John Sweet.

But, here is how they are different.

COVID-19 can often cause a fever, body aches, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, which are not usually associated with reactions to pollen. Allergies are more likely to cause itching, sneezing and nasal congestion.

“Typically with coronavirus, the symptoms will last for a couple of weeks,” said allergy specialist Dr. Sandra Hong. “They can sometimes be lingering but typically not like allergies where they can be month on end, a whole season.”

Decreased smell can also be associated with both the coronavirus and allergies but with COVID-19 it would be a sudden onset and often without nasal congestion.

And if you get the same symptoms at the same time every year, you probably have allergies, not COVID-19.

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Doctors say allergy seasons are longer and more intense now mainly because of climate change. The peak of spring in the Philadelphia region is usually late April.

Stephanie Stahl