Harsh Spring Allergy Season Spurs Hay Fever Fears

Harsh Spring Allergy Season Spurs Hay Fever Fears

What your doctor is reading on Medscape.com:

APRIL 03, 2020 — A consistent increase in the intensity and length of allergy season in regions of the United States signals a difficult season in 2020 for patients with allergic rhinitis, at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic affects communities.

“We are seeing quite a bit of concern and confusion because allergy season is early this year due to warmer temperatures and symptoms can come on suddenly,” said Lakiea Wright, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was scheduled to speak at the recently cancelled American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) 2020 Meeting.

“Everyone is on edge, so if they start to have a cough or feel congested, they might have a moment of panic. That’s why it’s up to us to pinpoint what’s really going on,” she told Medscape Medical News.

Both allergies and COVID-19 can involve congestion, a run-down feeling, coughing, and a running nose, explained Jeffrey Factor, MD, from the Connecticut Asthma & Allergy Center in West Hartford.

Itching, watery eyes, and sneezing, though, are symptoms of allergies and are not associated with the virus, he added.

“It is difficult to protect patients from outdoor molds and pollens,” said Sanjiv Sur, MD, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Although allergies can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications, right now “there is a lack of availability of over-the-counter medications because people have stocked up,” he told Medscape Medical News. “Patients should not wait until the last minute to ascertain whether they have enough supplies.”

Allergies vs Coronavirus

It’s important that patients know the difference between allergies and COVID-19, and understand when they should be concerned. That point, Sur explained, is when they develop shortness of breath in addition to flu-like aches and pains.

Although fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it’s helpful to let patients know that people can have the virus without ever developing a fever, he pointed out.

If a patient’s symptoms improve with medication or when they stay inside, it’s likely they’re dealing with allergies.

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