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What’s the Difference Between Allergies and COVID-19?

September 14, 2020

Many people experience allergies, which may be caused by changes in the weather and other seasonal factors. Allergy symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. Selina Gierer, DO, who specializes in allergy and immunology, explains how to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and COVID-19.

Allergy management

To maintain control of your allergies, Dr. Gierer says it’s important to:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick by practicing social distancing and wearing masks
  • Know what your allergy triggers are, so you can avoid them
  • Take your allergy medications regularly to control symptoms

Asthma management

In addition to allergies, many people with asthma are also concerned about having increased risk of complications should they become infected with COVID-19. Dr. Gierer says patients with asthma may be at a slightly higher risk for complications from any viral infection, including COVID-19. Viral infections can also lead to uncontrolled asthma, so it is very important for asthmatics to ensure their disease is very well controlled. Her tips for people with asthma include:

  • Clean your space often and avoid harsh chemicals that can make asthma worse
  • Practice social distancing and wear a mask if you are not able to do so
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day

To manage asthma, she suggests that people:

  • Avoid their asthma triggers, which are similar to allergy triggers
  • Have a 30-day supply of medications on hand at all times
  • Continue taking their asthma medications consistently
  • Seek care if your asthma is currently uncontrolled or becomes uncontrolled
  • Notify their asthma care physician if they develop COVID-19, so they can help adjust medications if needed

Dr. Gierer says if you do something that could trigger your allergies or asthma, such as yard work, and the next day you have symptoms, you can probably attribute that to your allergies or asthma and not COVID-19. However, if you do not typically suffer from seasonal allergies and are having symptoms, you should schedule an urgent care video visit to see if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

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