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Allergy season has arrived in Houston! Unfortunately… so did COVID-19. While spring may bring lovely weather, it also brings an increase in not-so-lovely allergens. You know the feeling during hay fever season—your eyes start to itch, your nose starts to run, you can’t stop sneezing.

Your immune system sees pollen as a threat and releases antibodies to fight against the allergens. Unlike with coronavirus, your body knows what to do when it identifies these particles. This leads to the immunoresponsive histamine molecules being released into the blood. Histamines are what trigger those familiar seasonal allergy symptoms you just know you hate.

But sneezing and wheezing and hay fever sound like symptoms of COVID-19! Well… not so fast. COVID-19 and hay fever (a common name for “allergic rhinitis”) are completely different but do share a few overlapping symptoms.

What’s the Difference Between COVID-19 & Spring Allergy Symptoms?

With the onset of spring, the pollen count is predicted to increase sooner and with greater intensity given our mild southeast Texas winter. That means hay fever causing respiratory symptoms from oak, ragweed, & pollen.

Hay fever isn’t really a “fever” as much as a quaint, old term for seasonal allergies.

Coronavirus & seasonal allergies generally have a major difference:

  • No itching with COVID-19.
  • No fever or shortness of breath with allergic reactions to pollen. (Wheezing doesn’t count.)

The table below highlights some of the differences in how symptoms for coronavirus and spring allergies:

Symptom COVID-19 Allergies
Fever >100.4oF Common Rare
Cough Common Sometimes
Shortness of Breath Common Wheezing
Sore Throat Sometimes No
Sneezing/Itchiness No Yes
Body Aches Sometimes No
Facial Pain/Headache Sometimes No
Runny Nose Rare Yes
Fatigue Sometimes Sometimes
Diarrhea Rare No

But never fear. Hope is not all lost! There are some preventative steps you can take to help ward off the “spring fever.”

Limit Your Time Outside Your House

Seems like this shouldn’t be much of an issue this year. Despite the fact that being outside means allergy sufferers are exposing themselves more to pollen, it’s also good for you.

Change Your Air Filters

As the COVID-19 coronavirus has us all cooped-up indoors for extended periods of time, your normal springtime activities have probably changed. What would normally be you suffering during a family friend’s backyard cook-out is now Facetiming your well-wishes from the comfort of your home.

Though, mostly being inside your home for two weeks means your air conditioner is probably running a little more than it usually would. If you don’t have your air filters on your Amazon Prime schedule, you probably started social distancing right when we’d normally start switching from “Winter” to “Spring” mode. When you decide to switch out your air filters, a good HEPA filter can work wonders at keeping your home allergen-free.

Do a Little Spring Cleaning

It probably took until Day 4 until you started settling into your new coronavirus routine at home. Then the “nesting phase” began. With all the Netflix binged and all the Instagram ‘grammed, it makes sense to start digging into that junk closet you’ve been avoiding since Labor Day.

Doing a Marie Kondo-esque purge & a deep clean will achieve 2 things:

  1. You’ll throw out (or maybe donate) any unnecessary clothes, household items, or junk you’ve been mindlessly collecting.
  2. You’ll scrub away any dirt, dust, or dander that can aggravate an already-triggered immune system.

Mold should be an important focus since it’s an allergen. Spring also brings higher humidity rates, which could further exacerbate your allergic reaction. Vacuum and dust often to also help you control your symptoms.

Keep the Pollen at Bay

So, you finally get outside. You’ve taken some antihistamines and experienced the gorgeous Texas spring from the safety & comfort of your backyard. Before returning indoors and resuming your socially distanced routines, you should change your clothes to something that isn’t covered in outside pollen. Remember to take off your shoes as those will spread allergens throughout the house too.

This means your deep cleaning was not in vain. It means your HEPA filter still keeps the allergens at bay. It reduces your body’s exposure so you can go on about the rest of your day.

If you suffer from severe seasonal allergies, a quick rinse in the shower can also remove pollen from your skin and hair. If going outside and enjoying the terribly gorgeous spring isn’t “your thing,” make sure to keep your distance from springtime allergens before going to bed. 8 hours of sleep—rolling around with pollen on your pillow—means your nightly rest will be anything but.

Taking care of your springtime allergies means reducing their negative effects on your life. Like we’re learning with our recent COVID-19 pandemic, avoidance is key. Whether it’s less itching in your eyes, less sniffles from your nose, or less sneezing when you least expect it, anything you can do to minimize your exposure to allergens will help you have a great spring in Texas.

Despite seeing it from 6 feet away.

Are you struggling with seasonal allergies? We’ve got plenty of options for you. Take back your sinuses (so you can take a shower without staring in horror at the green mold in the corner of your ceiling) by discussing your allergies with Dr. Pasha and his team. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!

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