Prevea Health

Allergies, cold, flu or COVID-19 - symptom navigator and what to do

If you or your child is sick, you may wonder if it’s allergies, a cold, the flu or COVID-19. In addition, with COVID-19, symptoms can range from no symptoms to severe symptoms and it can be challenging to know what to do. The chart below outlines how symptoms differ and what you might see with each condition, as well as recommendations for what to do in each situation.

This chart should not replace medical diagnosis. For children or adults who are not seriously ill, it is recommended to contact your medical provider first to determine if you should seek medical care, what to do if symptoms are not improving or to provide a medical excuse for school or work.

Symptom Navigator

symptoms for children symptoms for adults

Symptoms Allergies Cold Flu COVID-19
Symptoms begin Gradually Gradually Suddenly: 1 to 4 days after exposure 2 to 14 days after exposure; typically after 5 days.
Symptoms last Throughout allergy season 4 to 10 days 5 to 7 days Varies by person
Symptoms get worse with time x x
Body or muscle aches Rare x x
Chills Rare x x
Cough x Sometimes x x
Tiredness/weakness Sometimes Sometimes x x
Earache (in children) Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes
Fever Rare x x
Headache x Rare x x
Itchy or watery eyes x
Loss of taste or smell x
Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea Sometimes x
Runny nose x x Sometimes x
Stuffy nose x x Sometimes x
Sneezing x x Sometimes x
Sore throat x x Sometimes x
Shortness or breath or difficulty breathing Rare Rare Rare x
If you have these symptoms
  1. If you or your child has a known history of allergies, follow the action plan recommended by your medical provider.
  2. If you or your child does not have a known history of allergies, consider an antihistamine such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Benadryl.
  1. Stay home.
  2. Contact your or your child’s provider for medical advice.
  1. Stay home.
  2. Contact your or your child’s provider for medical advice.
  1. Stay home.
  2. Distance from others in the house, if possible.
  3. Get tested for COVID-19.
  4. Continue to isolate and remain home until you are able to get tested and until you get your result.
Many children with COVID-19 experience no symptoms. If your child has had close contact with someone with COVID-19, it’s important to stay home and distance from others in order to help protect those who are at high risk for severe illness from the virus (i.e. grandparents).

x = symptom is typical for this illness.

How to get tested for COVID-19

If you or your child has COVID-19 symptoms or has had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, go to to start the screening process.


When to seek emergency medical attention

For children or adults who are seriously ill with any of the following signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
  • Trouble or fast breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • New confusion
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F; or any fever in children less than 12 weeks old

This list is not all possible symptoms. Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility to let the operator know if you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

For more resources about COVID-19 and other illnesses, click here or visit