Mind & Body
Spring Allergies or COVID-19?
4/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

Allergies vs Cover-19


With the earliest on-set of spring since 1896, pollen has started to bloom, causing the typical allergy symptoms. 


Adding to the misery this year is allergy season’s early arrival coinciding with the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), increasing anxiety as people try to determine if their symptoms are just seasonal allergies or perhaps a warning sign they have been infected with the virus. 


 "Allergies typically cause nasal symptoms such as a runny nose and sinus congestion, but do not usually result in a fever, as found with COVID-19,” said Dr. Bridget Loehn, Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist with Imperial Health. "But some allergy symptoms—like nasal congestion and a dry cough – are similar to the mild symptoms found in those diagnosed with COVID-19, making it difficult to know which one you have. Because of that, it is prudent to assume you could be infected and follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to minimize contact with other people until it becomes clear that allergies are the cause of your symptoms.”


There are some key differences in the causes, symptoms and treatment options. Dr. Loehn says knowing these may help lessen your anxiety and reduce the strain on local healthcare providers during this time.


CAUSES

Allergies are caused by a response in the immune system and are not contagious. 


COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that can spread person to person through close contact, touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing. 


TREATMENT

Allergies respond well to over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays. For those with severe reactions, a visit to an allergist for a customized plan is recommended.


COVID-19 does not have a specific antiviral treatment, although development is underway. If symptoms are mild, it is recommended to self-isolate at home, cover coughs and sneezes, drink plenty of fluids, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid sharing personal items and clean all surfaces that are touched often. You may also want to take over-the-counter medication to help treat the symptoms such as cough suppressants, fever reducers and expectorants.   


If you’re feeling sick, please follow the below recommendations from the Louisiana Department of Health:


If you have mild symptoms and are worried that you might have COVID-19, call your doctor or local health department instead of going to a clinic or doctor’s office without an appointment, to ensure you aren’t potentially exposing others to the virus.


If you have severe breathing problems, seek medical attention or call 911 immediately and let the person you speak with know that you have respiratory problems and need to be isolated and seen right away.


"A good way of identifying the differences between COVID-19 and allergy symptoms is that itchiness is a hallmark sign it’s allergy related, and allergy symptoms rarely extend beyond the head,” said Dr. Loehn.

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