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Differentiating between seasonal allergies and COVID

Better Health & Wellness

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As the seasons change from spring to summer, pollen, dust and other allergens are in the air.

According to pollen.com, Wichita is being hit the hardest with oak, grasses and mulberry allergens right now. The pollen levels have fluctuated from the highest to lowest category all throughout the month of May.

It can be difficult to discern between symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies because some symptoms overlap.

“If you’re running a fever, definitely we should be checking you for COVID. And you should self-isolate yourself. If you don’t want to test get tested, then at least self isolate yourself, because we need to stop the spread of COVID,” Dr. Samrah Mansoor, medical director of the American Family Care clinic in northeast Wichita said.

Dr. Mansoor recommends over-the-counter medications like Claritin, Zyrtec, Nasacort and Rhinocort to help allergy sufferers get through the season.

“So if you’re having seasonal allergies, and you take the medicine and you get better, they were seasonal allergies. But if you’re not getting better, and you’re having body aches, or you spike a fever, then then you should be concerned about COVID,” Dr. Mansoor said.

SYMPTOMSCOVID 19Seasonal Allergies
High FeverYESRARELY
HeadacheYESYES
Itchy or Watery EyesNEVERYES
Fatigue, WeaknessYESYES
Runny Nose, Sore ThroatYESYES
SneezingRARELYYES
Sudden loss of tasteYESNEVER
Chart courtesy of American Family Care

According to a provider with American Family Care, these are the top five ways to make allergies worse:

1. Drinking Alcohol:  An extra glass of wine at dinner could irritate existing allergies.  A  Danish study found every additional alcoholic drink in a week, increased the risk of seasonal allergies by 3 percent. The researchers suspect the bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines and cause a stuffy nose or itchy eyes.   

2. Making your bed:  Dust mites love to put down roots in bedding and mattresses.  AFC medical providers say at night, while you sleep, moisture from body sweat helps keep the little critters alive.  When you make your bed in the morning, you are tucking in those pesky bugs, so they cannot escape.  Airing out your sheets can make it harder for allergens and bedbugs to stay alive.

3. Wearing contact lenses:  In some cases, AFC providers say lenses can trap pollen against the surface of the eye. This can be an even bigger issue for anyone who is already suffering from red, itchy eye triggered by seasonal allergies.

4.Eating certain fruits and vegetables:   We are raised to think eating our veggies is good for us.  Researchers with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found proteins in certain foods can cause ragweed sufferers to end up with an itchy mouth.   The experts say bananas, melons as well as tomatoes can cause a cross-reaction.

5. Using the dishwasher:  A Swedish study published in the journal Pediatrics found children do not develop as many allergies if they eat off hand-washed dishes rather than plates or bowls cleaned in a dishwasher.  Researchers found automated dishwashers kill so much bacteria children cannot build up an immunity.   

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