DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado currently has some of the worst air quality in the entire world. It is causing many people to sneeze, cough, have itchy eyes and runny noses, and even headaches. With the rise in COVID-19 delta variant cases in the state, how can you tell if you’re just dealing with issues from the smoke and not sick with the coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says respiratory symptoms such as dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing are common to both wildfire smoke exposure and COVID-19.
Here’s what the CDC says are the differences in symptoms from wildfire smoke and COVID-19:
- Information on symptoms of COVID-19 is available. If you are experiencing symptoms unrelated to smoke exposure such as, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, diarrhea, the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker can help determine whether further assessment or testing for COVID-19 is needed
- If you have questions after using the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker, you should contact a healthcare provider
- If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, you should seek prompt medical attention by calling 911 or calling ahead to the nearest emergency facility
The CDC says wearing a basic cloth mask might not protect you from wildfire smoke but an N95 respirator will:
- Although N95 respirators provide protection from wildfire smoke, they might be in short supply as frontline healthcare workers use them during the pandemic.
- Cloth face coverings that are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 offer little protection against harmful air pollutants in wildfire smoke because these coverings do not capture most small particles in smoke.
The easiest way to know whether or not you are dealing with symptoms of COVID-19 or just wildfire smoke is to get a COVID-19 test, especially if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.