For many people, the arrival of spring means warmer temperatures, longer, sunny days, and the end of cold and flu season. Even though flu and cold cases tend to dip during this time, COVID infections are still running rampant. Instead of normally preparing for allergy season, it’s necessary to continue taking precautions against the coronavirus. Even though you may be ready to relax and let your guard down, don’t. Spring allergy season is upon us, and for the time being, COVID is here to stay.
In case you weren’t aware, it is possible to catch COVID more than once even while suffering from allergies and other ailments, including sinus infections. Knowing this may leave you feeling a bit stressed and vulnerable about what you can do to protect your health. COVID and springtime allergies do have similar symptoms, but they are not impossible to tell apart. It’s also not necessary to panic about every sneeze, sniffle, or cough you experience. Use this brief guide to learn how to distinguish allergy symptoms from COVID and what to do to avoid complications and put your mind at ease.
Typically, allergy symptoms tend to be mild. Yet, it’s not unusual for some people with asthma and other upper respiratory conditions to experience more severe symptoms due to the increase of pollen, humidity, etc. Allergy flares occur when the immune system encounters an environmental trigger or substance. This heightened sensitivity causes the immune system to overreact, causing irritation and inflammation of the airways, often associated with coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Allergy symptoms often come and go without warning, and can in some cases, linger as well. The good thing about most spring allergy symptoms is they are manageable with medications, self-care, and diet, lifestyle, activity adjustments.
Symptoms include the following:
- Light to moderate fatigue
- Shortness of Breath
- Nasal Congestion
- Red or Watery Eyes
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Chest tightness
Pets and pollen are the most common allergy triggers, though other conditions, such as dry air, dust, and even certain foods can cause flare-ups. Allergies are not contagious so they can’t be transmitted to others. Also, flares can vary in severity and last for weeks, months, and even years. The key to successfully preventing allergy symptoms is to limit exposure to things that set them off. Since flares are not always avoidable, many people find the following tactics extremely beneficial: maintaining proper air humidity, using an air purifier to remove pollen, pet dander, dust, and other upper respiratory irritants, and taking allergy medication as directed.
COVID tends to cause more widespread symptoms than those usually associated with spring allergies. Also, COVID doesn’t cause symptoms in everyone it infects. Some people are asymptomatic. It’s not unusual to test positive for the coronavirus without symptoms.
It’s widely documented that COVID infections can be asymptomatic. However, those who do develop symptoms often experience some of the following:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Muscle weakness
- Extreme fatigue
- Trouble breathing
- Body chills
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
- Nausea or vomiting
It is possible to have COVID and not realize it. Symptoms are not always severe and, in some cases, resolve quickly within several days. There are also mild cases that become severe seemingly overnight that require immediate medical attention and even hospitalization.
Symptom Awareness Is Crucial
Do not make assumptions about or ignore any potential allergy, COVID, or upper respiratory symptoms that you may experience. Sinus infections are also very common and tend to recur all throughout the year. Allergies, sinusitis, and other common airway ailments, including maintaining a high-stress lifestyle increase the likelihood of developing both allergy symptoms and a COVID infection at the same time. Allergies sufferers with active COVID symptoms are contagious and should take appropriate measures to avoid spreading the infection to their loved ones.
Most allergy sufferers are aware of how their bodies respond during symptom flares and can benefit from using that knowledge in times of uncertainty. For example, sneezing and itching as well as watery eyes are more common with allergies. They are common reactions to elevated histamine activity and are manageable with antihistamines (i.e. Claritin or Zyrtec). On the other hand, fever, extreme head pain, and a loss of taste are COVID symptoms. Though they can be quite unpleasant to experience, most cases resolve with rest, self-care, and symptom management.
Similar Symptoms Different Outcomes
There is some overlap between COVID and allergy symptoms. However, allergy symptoms tend to impact the upper respiratory system. Coughing, tiredness, and shortness of breath often occur with both conditions, making it more difficult to determine if the cause is allergy-related or a COVID infection. It is possible for one to have many symptoms that are seen in COVID patients, only to learn their illness is due to a severe allergy attack. The same goes for someone who believes they are experiencing an allergy flare-up only to learn they have a COVID infection.
The risks of not knowing when one is suffering from an active COVID infection, case of springtime allergies, or even a sinus infection can be life-threatening. Not everyone regains their full health or survives the coronavirus. Now is the time to get more proactive about your health. Rest when you feel the need to and be sure to track or document any symptoms you develop, no matter how familiar they may seem. Seek out medical care immediately if you experience any COVID-like or severe allergy symptoms or if you feel odd and are not able to determine the cause.
Contact C/V ENT Surgical Group
Preventing the spread is key in overcoming COVID. Wear your mask, quarantine when necessary, and take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Remember, the best way to know for certain if your symptoms are due to allergies or COVID is to get tested.