ALLERGY SEASON: Prepare for spring allergy season: distinguish between viral infection

Raquel Harrington reports.
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 9:21 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - While we love the warmer weather and the green grass, there’s a side of spring many of us dread. With spring more than two weeks away, seasonal allergies are starting to ramp up.

“I don’t want to go back to the cold weather now that we got a hint of this,” said Amanda Kearney while enjoying a picnic Wednesday afternoon.

She and her friend Conner Ubben said it’s nice being able to finally enjoy the outdoors again, but not the allergies that come with it.

“It can be harder. You may have to carry Kleenex everywhere. Like your nose is runny, and it’s not as enjoyable,” explained Kearney.

Jordan Valley Community Health Center Family Physician Dr. Matthew Stinson says there are allergy symptoms to look out for as we head into spring. “The most common things are watery eyes, itchy throat, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion.”

Dr. Stinson says there are ways you can slow those symptoms down when trying to enjoy the Ozarks. “Make sure you have an antihistamine that works really well for you, and that you pre-medicate instead of medicating after.”

“An over-the-counter antihistamine, like Zyrtec, Allegra, those are often effective for milder symptoms,” explained Cox Health, Allergy, and Immunology Doctor William Micka.

Dr. Micka said if antihistamines don’t work, add an over-the-counter nasal spray to your daily routine, and mask up to help block the pollen. “Before this pandemic, I often recommended to patients to do that if they had a lot of problems with seasonal allergies. especially with mowing the lawn where pollen really gets kicked up.”

Despite being weeks away from spring, Dr. Micka said it’s common for people to be experiencing spring allergies. He explained that many trees are starting to pollinate, and mold count is elevated.

So, how do you distinguish between allergy and viral infection symptoms? Dr. Stinson says it can be pretty tricky. However, you want to look for that pattern. If you experience symptoms around the same time every year, it’s likely allergies. He said a viral infection, like COVID-19 or the flu, could have fever, chills, and body aches. Dr. Stinson says you want to be cautious and monitor your symptoms.

“Because of the pandemic, if you have anything that you think might be related to COVID, go get tested. You can always take your antihistamine and see what that does. But make sure you get tested too,” stressed Dr. Stinson.

Starting Monday, the Springfield Greene County Health Department will start its pollen count so people can keep track of what’s in the air.

CLICK HERE to view the CDC’s infographic: Venn diagram of the overlap of COVID-19 symptoms with seasonal allergy symptoms

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