Right now, people are starting to sneeze and get itchy watery eyes. Allergy season is rearing its ugly head. But living in pandemic, many worry it might be COVID-19.
The telltale signs of spring, trees budding, flowers popping up. But the beauty is often marred by the reaction to all the allergens.
Dr. Sean Taheri, D.O. is the medical director at AFC Urgent care.
“Now that there is COVID, people are really focused, and rightly so, very concerned every cough, sneeze, sore throat, may be a sign of COVID,” he said.
It happens every year. The sneezing begins and itchy, watery eyes blur the world around.
If you experience these, you do not need a COVID-19 test.
If you spike a fever or lose the sense of taste and smell, get a test.
“People are trying to go back to work and trying to go back to their normal lives, and coughs and sore throats, people are very, very focused on that,” Taheri said.
So let’s break down all of the symptoms of the season: Allergy and pandemic.
- A high fever is often associated with COVID-19 but rarely occurs with allergies.
- COVID sufferers feel intense head pain. So too do those with allergies, the clogged sinuses can leave people with massive headaches.
- Itchy watery eyes are never associated with COVID-19, but are frequent complaints with allergies.
- With both, people can feel fatigued and have a sore throat and runny nose as the body’s immune system kicks in, to fight off either SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 or substances it deems harmful like pollen, mold, animal dander, or even food.
- Though the nose may feel stuffy, sneezing is rarely associated with COVID-19, just allergies.
- And if you have a loss of taste or smell, not just from congestion but sudden onset, that is COVID-19, not allergies.
“Being proactive is very, very important,” Taheri said. “If you know you have allergies, start taking some over the counter allergy medication early on in the season.”
To ease the fear, be proactive when it comes to reducing allergy symptoms. Don’t drink alcohol. Taheri said it can release a lot of histamine.
And forget making your bed.
“Bedsheets can be a good source of allergies. They tend to pick up stuff. They tend to pick up moisture from your sweat and they tend to have things like dust mites,” Taheri said. “So airing out your sheets would be a good thing.”
If you need vision correction, opt for glasses instead of contacts.
“Those contacts tend to trap allergens behind them and that can cause a lot of eye irritation and itching,” Taheri said.
And although fruits and vegetables always seem a healthy choice, some are not advised in allergy season. Bananas, melons and tomatoes can cause a cross-reaction.
“Your body sees them as somewhat of a foreign substance. and so it tends to put an allergic response,” Taheri said.
Change house filters as well.
And remember the season doesn’t last long. But when in doubt, always call the doctor rather than risk spreading COVID-19 — which can be deadly for some.