Allergies or virus? Doctors warn of fall virus strains that mimic allergy symptoms

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Fall is right around the corner and many are already starting to feel the effects of fall allergies. Doctors say many people are impacted by degradation of plants causing dust to spread.

"They get the itchy watery eyes. They get the runny nose. They get the overall sense of fatigue," said Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, Chief Physician Executive at Ezkenazi Center for Excellence in Women's Health.

Those symptoms are very typical for allergy patients, but they are also some of the same symptoms for patients who have a virus.

"Every year, viruses cause untold irritation to millions of people and most kind of common cold viruses feel a lot like allergies, and it’s hard at first to tell the difference," said Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber.

While the symptoms are similar, doctors warn patients to pay attention to how their own body reacts. Some symptoms of the virus are more serious than allergies.

"A cold or a cold virus affects the rest of the body as well and so frequently you’ll have some muscle aches and pains," Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber explained.

Children are most at risk for allergy mimicking viruses.

"The one thing we worry about the most in the fall though, especially for children, is the respiratory syncytia virus. That’s a virus that’s very common in the fall. Probably every child will have been affected by the age of two,” said Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber. "It can sometimes just look like allergies with a bit of a runny nose, maybe a little cough, but when it gets into the lungs it can be more dangerous."

Another concern is the spreading of viruses. Doctors said if you start to feel symptoms, stay home. They also say to wash your hands frequently and sneeze into your arm.

"Allergies come because of the environment, because of plants, because of your exposure. You can’t give an allergy symptom to somebody else, but you can certainly pass on a cold virus. Viruses are contagious. They spread easily," said Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber.

The viruses are generally strains of the flu. Doctors said the best way to prevent them is vaccination.