PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s that time of year. Spring has sprung for the second time during the pandemic. So are the symptoms you’re feeling just a spring thing? Or something much nastier and more dangerous?
“Allergies or COVID-19?” is probably a question you’ve asked yourself once or twice during this last year.
Rebekah King, a family nurse practitioner with CVS Minute Clinic, says you’re not alone.
“Every day, I think I see more people than not who are feeling that way,” said King.
Seasonal allergies are caused by airborne pollen.
“With seasonal allergies, we tend to see a lot of itchy eyes and nose, clear nasal discharge, sore scratchy throat, lots of sneezing,” said King. “Less common sometimes will have the headache, fatigue, sinus pressure, cough, that sort of thing.”
For COVID-19, things are a bit different.
“Fever, diarrhea, nausea, changes related to smell and taste,” King said. “So those are some symptoms that tend to make us think it could be more suspicious for COVID.”
Telling the difference between the two gets tricky when the symptoms overlap.
“Cough, congestion, fatigue, and with those symptoms, often we’ll recommend that patients do get a COVID test so that we can determine where to go from there,” said King.
If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, you’ll want to quarantine and monitor symptoms. Click here for guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the test back negative, it’s probably allergies, and you’ll want to talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
King says you’ll want to start those sooner rather than later.
“It’s very important to start of medication sooner rather than later for allergies,” King said. “If you think you may be having trouble with allergies, you actually want to begin allergy medication two to four weeks before symptoms begin so it has time to decrease, block those histamines that cause the irritation and all of those lovely allergy symptoms.”
If you do suffer from allergies, here are some tips from King on other ways to manage them:
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
- Change clothes after being outside and wash them immediately
- Don’t wear outdoor shoes in the house
- Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioning
- Remember to change your air filter
“We’re currently in the high range with that pollen count and some of the biggest offenders are the birch trees, the poplar trees and the maple trees are causing a lot of trouble at this time,” King said.