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Telling the difference between allergies and COVID-19

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Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 18:20:07-04

For many people in Colorado, springtime allergies can be a pain.

But two years into the pandemic, waking up with allergy symptoms may have you wondering if you’re suffering from allergies or COVID-19.

“I think the things that we're listening for from our patients in clinical practice is, 'Do you have a fever? Are you short of breath? Do you have significant muscle aches and fatigue?' Those are symptoms and that make us think it could be more of an infectious process rather than an allergy process,” says Dr. Scott Joy, Chief Medical Officer with Health One Physician Services Group.

Dr. Joy says sneezing is not a COVID symptom, so if you’re sneezing chances are you have allergies or even just a cold. The doctor adds that having a thermometer at home to take your temperature, even a monitor for your oxygen level, can help doctors more quickly diagnose what’s bothering you.

He also says this year’s allergy season may be kicking off a bit later than the last couple of years due to the cold, snowy weather we’ve been experiencing recently.

“The moisture has kind of kept the pollens from getting airborne, keeping the flowers from fully blooming, keeping the trees from blooming early,” Dr. Joy added.

If you believe what you have are in fact allergies, there are some simple things you can do to help soothe your symptoms.

Stop Symptoms Before They Start – The Asthma and Allergy Foundation says taking medications early can help prevent histamine and other symptom-causing chemicals from being released in your body. While you can buy antihistamines over the counter, it is always best to consult with a doctor before starting a new treatment.

Check Pollen Counts – Pollen counts are typically highest in the morning between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. They can also be higher on warm, dry or windy days. Check the pollen count to determine the best time of day to go outside.

Keep Pollen at Bay – Wear a bandana or mask to block out allergen particles when going outside. Sunglasses can also help prevent eye irritation. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology also recommends showering and putting on clean clothes to avoid spreading pollen indoors. You may also want to avoid people or pets that have come in contact with pollen outdoor.

Consider Allergy Shots – Allergy shots can help your immune system to build up tolerance to allergens and lessen your need for medication.

If over-the-counter medications don’t help your symptoms, contact your doctor to determine if shots or other types of therapy are right for you.