While many of us may not be in the mindset to celebrate spring, it is in full swing with warmer days, singing birds and blooming flowers.
The downside; seasonal allergies.
Well, that in combination with the current COVID-19 crisis making us all justifiably nervous about a scratchy throat or sneeze attack. As the spring allergy season continues, we want to make sure you know what’s cause for concern and what’s not.
First and foremost, COVID-19’s most common symptom is fever. Allergies do not cause a fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommends self-monitoring your temperature a few times a day if you are concerned that you’ve been exposed to the novel virus.
Another differentiator is that allergies tend to wax and wane. For instance, symptoms may be more pronounced on drier days and less noticeable on rainy days. COVID-19 symptoms, on the other hand, are more aggressive and once you get sick, you tend to get sicker.
Additionally, many COVID-19 patients complain of progressive respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, tight chest, along with a sore throat. While some allergies do cause shortness of breath, it’s typically minor and gets better or worse, depending on the environment. Respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 just continue to get worse.
Other common allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose are not typical of COVID-19. However, it’s important you maintain good hygiene practices if you are finding yourself with those symptoms, in the event you are infected but asymptomatic. The CDC recommends the following when you cough or sneeze:
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
• Throw used tissues in the trash.
• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Another tip from the CDC is to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Recommended surfaces are:
• Light switches.
Also, if surfaces are dirty, clean them with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
For those of you who are more concerned about your allergies than COVID-19 right now, there are several things you can do to control your allergy symptoms:
• Limit your time outdoors on days with high pollen counts.
• Use air conditioners.
• Keep your house and car windows closed to keep pollen out.
• Avoid using fans, as they can stir up pollen.
• If you must do yard work, wear a mask.
• Wash your hair before bedtime.
It’s also a good idea to keep enough of your most trusted allergy medications on hand for about a month, in case you do get quarantined for a few weeks. If you do have trouble breathing, or symptoms become more severe, call your health-care provider to discuss.
For more information, visit us online at www.StMarysKC.com.
St. Mary’s Medical Center is in Blue Springs.