- Watery eyes = not associated with COVID-19
- Sneezing = rarely associated with COVID-19
- Stuff/blocked nose = rarely associated with COVID-19
- Runny nose = rarely associated with COVID-19
“Symptoms of nasal blockage, mucus production or sneezing are reported in 5% or less of COVID-19 patients from around the world, so if you have a history of allergies and are experiencing those symptoms, then you are more than likely experiencing a flare of your allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat, allergy and sinus specialist at UC Health.
Coronavirus has many similar symptoms as the flu, the common cold, and seasonal allergies, but symptoms such as body aches, sore throat, and diarrhea are usually never present with allergies. Dr. Allen Seiden, UC Health allergy and sinus specialist, notes that “A loss of smell and taste has been noted to be a potential early symptom of COVID-19, usually in the absence of nasal congestion,” which is another key differentiator for coronavirus versus the flu, a cold or allergies.
If you have been tested for allergies, now is a good time to locate your results and re-familiarize what you are sensitive to, follow your region’s air quality website or any local news station that reports on pollen and mold counts—this will give you an idea of whether your identified allergens are prevalent in the atmosphere.
As we approach the surge of the pandemic and “in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, patients with environmental allergies need to be especially careful about what they do to minimize their allergy symptoms so that their associated ear, nose and throat (ENT) and asthma issues don’t lead to potentially avoidable trips to urgent care or the emergency room,” explains Dr. Alfred Sassler, allergy and sinus specialist at UC Health.
UC Health allergy and sinus experts suggest minimizing symptoms by limiting your exposure to allergens and implementing environmental controls such as but not limited to:
- Pretreat your symptoms with a non-drowsy antihistamine if you plan to be outdoors.
- Replace your furnace filter every three months; use an electrostatic type filter such as one made by Filtrete. It is not necessary to use a HEPA filter on a furnace because it can shorten the life of your compressor, and the fiberglass filters are ineffective.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter bag or is cyclonic so you minimize how much dust you blow back into the room.
- Identify water leaks around pipes, drains or basements to minimize mold issues. Consider a dehumidifier in a high moisture basement.
- Try to keep doors and windows closed on the days and season when pollens or mold spores are prevalent.