LOS ANGELES - Flowers, trees, and grass are all in beautiful bloom but it’s not so beautiful for allergy sufferers. And it’s especially concerning because some of the symptoms mimic those of coronavirus.
Caroline Whyte was convinced she had COVID-19. “I had a scratchy throat, difficulty breathing, headache, and then the paranoia kicked in.”
It turns out, her symptoms, like many, were actually allergies, at their peak this month. “I feel like I get an itchy nose, not so much a runny nose, so obviously right now, anytime you have itchiness it’s annoying because you don’t want to be touching your face,” says April Dittmer, who also suffers from allergies.
It’s something even Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor Arash Moradzadeh deals with personally. “I’m an allergy-sufferer but I’m also having to go to the hospital and see patients,” says Dr. Moradzadeh.
“Sometimes I’ll get the sore throat, I’ll get the congestion and I’m like, ‘am I getting coronavirus or is it allergies?’ So, it’s something that even I’ve struggled with trying to distinguish sometimes.”
So how do you know if you’re suffering from allergies or coronavirus? “If you’re a younger, healthy person and you’re getting one of the milder cases of coronavirus, the symptoms might actually be identical,” says Dr. Moradzadeh.
“An easy way to differentiate is if you take an allergy pill or allergy nose spray. if you feel some relief, it’s allergies. If your symptoms remain the same, then it’s probably more likely to be coronavirus and something to discuss with your doctor.”
Dr. Moradzadeh says during this pandemic, over-the-counter allergy medicines, like Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec are safe.
“The nasal steroid sprays such as Flonase, the dosage is very, very weak so you don’t need to be worried about the steroids in nose sprays. It’s the oral steroids such as prednisone which you would be prescribed by a physician or the injectable ones that we’re trying to limit a little bit because those can lower the strength of your immune system.”
“I took some Claritin and within a couple of hours I felt better,” says a relieved Whyte. Some of the symptoms people are experiencing are also similar to the flu, but we’re at the tail-end of flu season so Dr. Moradzadeh says it’s more likely to be allergies or coronavirus.
If you don’t feel relief from over-the-counter allergy medicine, call your doctor. He adds those who suffer from asthma need to be especially cognizant of washing their hands often and keeping their inhaler with them during this pandemic.