Spring is just around the corner. Your nose is running like a tap and your nostrils are completely congested. Is it seasonal allergies or are you experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? Because the outbreak overlaps with allergy season, it might be hard to know what the symptoms indicate. Read on to find out how to tell them apart.
SEASONAL ALLERGIES OR COVID-19?
It’s easy to confuse the symptoms of seasonal allergies and those of COVID-19 as they share some similarities. A good tip to determine if whether or not your symptoms may be COVID-19 related is to compare your current symptoms with the symptoms you usually have during allergy seasons. If you notice a difference between the way you usually feel during allergy season and your current situation, this might be a hint that something else is at play.
|Runny Nose||Very liquid (transparent), may sometimes thicken||Rare|
|Nasal congestion||Both nostrils||Rare|
|Itchiness||In the nose or throat||None|
|Red, watery, or itchy eyes||Common||None|
|Cough||Sometimes, especially if the person is asthmatic||Common|
|Shortness of Breath||Sometimes (asthma flares, COPD flares)||Sometimes|
WHAT CAUSES SEASONAL ALLERGIES AND COVID-19?
For seasonal allergies, the symptoms are the result of an overreaction by the body to miniscule substances (called “allergens”) found in the air we breathe, e.g., ragweed pollen.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others cause illness in animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.
COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously identified in humans. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact.
CAREFUL WITH YOUR HANDS
Because allergy symptoms include itchy eyes, it might tempting to relieve the itchiness by touching your face and said eyes. However, such a habit can increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 if you have touched an infected surface or object beforehand.
Make sure to comply to strict hygiene measures such as handwashing for 20 seconds to minimize your risk. Medication can also relieve your allergy symptoms.
SEASONAL VS PERENNIAL ALLERGIES
Seasonal: When the allergen that causes allergic rhinitis is only present at a specific time of the year, the symptoms will appear at the same time every year. For example, in the spring for people who are allergic to tree pollen or in the fall for those with a ragweed allergy.
Perennial: When the allergen is present year-round in the environment, symptoms can occur all year long. Dust mites are one example of an allergen that can cause allergic rhinitis throughout the year.
SKIN TESTING FOR ALLERGIES, TO HELP YOU IDENTIFY TRIGGERS
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it is important to minimize your exposure to the allergen that triggers your symptoms. However, to do that, you need to know the cause. An allergy test will identify which allergens you react to. Then you can better target ways to avoid them and to anticipate the periods when they are likely to be present.
WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK YOUR PHARMACIST
If you’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, call your pharmacist. They can help determine whether you’re suffering from allergies or will indicate the next steps for you to follow if your symptoms are unusual. They may also suggest certain medications or other measures to relieve your allergy symptoms.