OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The coronavirus outbreak has many people wondering if their symptoms are something to be concerned about.

As the Tri-State Area enters allergy season, and people continue through a bad flu season, how do you tell the difference? CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff sorts it out.

An early allergy season is prompting possible confusion. Stuffy and runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, a cough: The distinction is important not only for peace of mind but for those around someone with symptoms.

Allergies do not typically cause a fever that comes with coronavirus.

“It’s fever and coughs that right now are considered the hallmarks of coronavirus. Other viruses, some of these have them, some of these don’t. With these general it makes it very difficult,” said Nassau Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein. “Right now a lot of people have these symptoms, a very small percentage will be coronoavirus.”

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Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau, says it’s more difficult to separate flu and cold symptoms from coronovirus.

“Unfortunately it’s very difficult clinically for me to look at a patient and say, ‘That cough is this disease,'” said Glatt.

A runny nose with a low-grade fever is probably a cold, but not necessarily, while coronavisus usually presents with fever, shortness of breath and a cough. There is no one type of cough that is distinct to coronavirus.

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His advice: If you have a cough and fever, stay home until symptoms are gone.

“The critical thing there if you have a respiratory illness, you’re contagious,” said Glatt. “Whether it’s the cold or flu or COVID-19, nobody wants to get your contagious respiratory illness whatever it is.”

If you suspect you have the symptoms of coronavirus and have reason to believe you’ve been exposed, experts say to be on the safe side, don’t just show up at the doctor’s office or hospital. Call first so they can take precautions such as putting a mask on the patient and examining them in an isolated area.

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