If This Is Your Only Symptom, You Might Be Safe From COVID

This worrisome symptom may not actually point to a coronavirus case.

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The coronavirus pandemic has put many of us so on edge that whenever we wake up with a new symptom, we immediately wonder if we've finally contracted the virus. However, many of the signs and symptoms we worry could mean COVID are also very common of other milder, seasonal ailments, like allergies or a cold. And according to experts, one symptom in particular may not be worth worrying over if it is the only symptom you have: sneezing. Keep reading to find out why experts say this symptom alone is not likely coronavirus, and for more symptoms you may be worried about, This Is How to Tell If Your Cough Is COVID, Doctors Say.

The CDC does not list sneezing as a coronavirus symptom.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has generated a list of coronavirus symptoms—and while they note that it's not comprehensive, it does include most of the common symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, headache, and fatigue. While congestion or runny nose is included on the list, sneezing is not. And for symptoms you do need to worry about, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.

But sneezing is listed as a symptom for other illnesses.

Shot of a young woman blowing her nose with her boyfriend in the background
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According to the CDC, sneezing is considered a common symptom of a cold and a flu symptom sometimes. If you have a cold, you are likely to experience a sore throat and runny nose first, followed by sneezing and coughing. The Mayo Clinic says that the flu may also have these symptoms—making it seem like a common cold at first—but the flu will develop suddenly while a cold usually develops slowly. And for more coronavirus news, discover The One Thing You Can Stop Doing to Avoid COVID, According to Doctors.

Sneezing may just be the result of allergies.

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Sashini Seeni, MD, a general practitioner of medicine at DoctorOnCall, says "sneezing is more likely to be a manifestation of cold, influenza infections, and allergies." And when comparing symptoms of COVID and seasonal allergies, the CDC says sneezing is more likely a symptom of seasonal allergies than it is of the coronavirus.

Seeni says it's important to take note of the other symptoms you have alongside your sneezing. If you experience "sneezing followed by itchiness, watery eyes, inflamed or swollen body parts," you're most likely just dealing with allergies. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Or a byproduct of the colder weather.

woman wearing face mask and winter clothing outside in the snow
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Alongside allergies, colds, and the flu, sneezing can also be brought on by your environment. Marc Goldstein, MD, a board-certified allergist and chief medical advisor at Curist, explained in an article for Curist that sneezing can be the result of colder weather. According to Goldstein, cold and dry air can irritate your nasal passages and this can cause you to sneeze. And for more on the current state of the pandemic, This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

So if you don't have other COVID symptoms, you may not need to worry.

Woman with headache at home
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"It is rather unlikely to have a single symptom associated with COVID-19," Seeni says. "This is due to the fact that viral infection tends to spread across the whole respiratory system, triggering lung-related ailments, and at the same time, [eliciting] systemic body response such as fever when the virus is exposed to our immune system."

You should expect to have some of the other coronavirus symptoms listed by the CDC if your sneeze is COVID-related and you are symptomatic. However, Seeni emphasized that it's impossible to be certain, so if you want to know for sure whether or not you have the virus, you should seek out a COVID test. And if you do have coronavirus, This One Thing Could Determine If Your COVID Case Will Be Severe or Mild.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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