By Dr. Frank Urbano, MD, MBA, FACP, senior medical director for AmeriHealth New Jersey
Spring is finally here and who doesn’t enjoy the warmer days, more time spent outside and seeing beautiful flowers in bloom? Anyone that suffers from seasonal allergies may be raising their hand.
Is it allergies, cold or COVID-19?
In recent months I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to distinguish symptoms of COVID-19 from other viruses, as they may have some of the same symptoms. An allergy can also have symptoms in common with a viral infection, so it can sometimes be hard to tell if you you’ve come down with a cold or virus, or if it’s seasonal allergies that have you feeling under the weather.
Although there may be an overlap, the most common symptoms associated with seasonal allergies are far less common with COVID-19. Those include:
- Itchy nose, eyes, and throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
Additionally, COVID-19 usually causes symptoms of the lower respiratory tract – such as the lungs – which is much less common in allergies.
How to help keep your allergies in check
- Check the drugstore for symptom relief. Over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and nasal steroids will help relieve a stuffy nose and antihistamines can help tackle your sniffles and itching. If none of the OTC medications seem to be working, consult with your doctor to ask if he or she can provide a prescription.
- Wash away the allergen from the day. Take a quick shower to wash off any lingering pollen from your body and hair before you get into bed.
- Spend your time outdoors wisely. Check pollen counts in the morning and try to stay indoors when they’re high. On those days, consider an indoor workout instead of going for a walk. If you’re spending time in your garden, I’d recommend limiting your time, or try to cover your face to minimize your exposure to pollen.
When to call the doctor
Taking care of yourself and maintaining good health can sometimes be hard, and treating allergies is no exception. If you want to take the guesswork out of things, or if you’re just feeling uncertain, contact your primary care doctor.