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Allergies or COVID-19? Here are some ways to tell the difference

If you’re worried you might have COVID instead of your usual allergies, Allen suggested being cautious. He recommended a COVID test between the third and fifth day of symptoms because testing too early could result in a false negative result on a COVID test.

He also recommended being cautious if there’s a chance of passing the virus to someone with a compromised immune system.

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According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, in late summer, about 15% of Americans are affected by pollen from ragweed, a weed that grows throughout the United States and particularly in the eastern and midwestern states. It can also be a trigger for people with asthma. Ragweed is common in rural areas and pollen counts are highest in the morning.

For anyone suffering from allergies or asthma due to increased humidity and pollen, Allen recommended taking allergy medication consistently and staying in a cool place.

“Avoidance is the best treatment option,” Allen said, when it comes to protecting yourself from allergies. “If you know you’re allergic to something, stay away from it.”

The Dayton region is a challenge for children suffering from allergies and asthma as it is located in a valley. dr David Morris, pediatric allergist and chief of allergies at Dayton Children’s Hospital, said this area is rich in allergens. With the humidity in the region, it also creates an environment where mold allergens can thrive.

“Typically in September we’re going to see an increase in hospital admissions,” Morris said of children suffering from mold allergies.

Dayton Children’s also expects an increase in visits when school starts. Allergies are expected to trigger asthma attacks and colds are expected to spread at school.

For children who suffer from allergies, Morris recommends that parents prepare early on to have their medications available at school. Even with over-the-counter drugs, schools want a doctor to approve them while the kids are in school.

“Forms trickle in first,” Morris said, adding that he and his colleagues have now seen a “very large flood” of parents submitting these drug consent forms. He said he signs about a dozen a day and advised parents it takes a few days for doctors to send those forms back to parents and schools.

Medications for children are also important to help them manage their symptoms when they have allergies and asthma.

“Make sure you’re on your daily control medication,” Morris said.

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Morris recommended minimizing exposure to pollen to reduce eye symptoms associated with allergies, such as redness, itching and watery eyes. One way to do this is for children to wipe their face and wash their hands to reduce the time pollen spends on their face and wear sunglasses to prevent pollen from getting into their eyes.

Morris also recommended minimizing outdoor activities in the mornings and evenings whenever possible.

“Pollen counts can go up in the evening and morning,” Morris said.

At 30 degrees, however, this is not always possible, because heat can also be dangerous for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.

The eye symptoms are another indicator that an illness could be allergies and not COVID. For allergy sufferers who have mild eye and nose symptoms, Morris said it’s safe to go to school, but if those symptoms worsen, he suggested doing an at-home COVID test. In the case of additional symptoms such as fever, body aches and shortness of breath, he recommended that the child be examined by a doctor.

“You can always make a quick visit to your doctor, too,” Morris said.

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