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Cedar fever? Or coronavirus? Doctor explains how symptoms are the same — and different

Mountain cedar pollen count has been high the past few days in North Texas, and allergy sufferers are feeling it.

FORT WORTH, Texas — If there's anything you can count on in North Texas, it's the reliable arrival of cedar fever: the allergy symptoms that mountain cedar and other trees cause.

"The whole house," said allergy sufferer Joni Smith of Fort Worth. "We're sneezing, our eyes are watering, we're fighting over the Zyrtec."

Smith and her family know the symptoms so well, they have a box of allergy meds at the ready.

"I mean, the only reason I'm wearing makeup is for this interview," she joked. "Otherwise I'd have it off because my eyes are so itchy and runny."

Cedar fever symptoms mainly affect your eyes, nose and throat.

"It's just sneezing, congestion, drainage," said allergist Dr. James Haden of Fort Worth. "Lots of times you'll get itchy eyes."

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But some people this year reported their first signs of COVID-19 mimicked the signs of allergies. Even the most seasoned seasonal allergy sufferers might be wondering: is this cedar fever, or is it coronavirus?

"The only thing that's really classic for COVID, kind of overlaps with allergies, is the loss of sense of smell," Haden said, and sometimes a tickle in your throat.

But Haden says there are clear differences between the two, starting with cedar fever's misleading name.

"Allergies don't ever cause a fever. COVID does. The cough of COVID tends to be pretty dry," the doctor said. "Use your nasal allergy meds, use your nasal spray, use your antihistamines. But if you're not getting the relief you normally get from those things, get tested for COVID."

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The Smith family says there's no question what they have is allergies.

"I can understand," Smith said, that people "could be concerned that it might be something more than just cedar fever."

They'll just stick to their box of allergy meds until the cedar rides, through.