DENVER (CBS4) – We live in a different world right now with the coronavirus pandemic in progress. A world where if you’re out in public and you sniffle or sneeze you will probably get some stares. There will be a lot of sniffling and sneezing in the days and weeks ahead as we enter pollen season across Colorado.
Dr. Flavia Hoyte with National Jewish Health in Denver says most people who have allergies know what their allergies feel like and when they tend to peak. Allergies mostly affect the eyes, nose and skin since these are the areas most exposed to pollen. Typical allergy symptoms will include itchy water and/or red eyes as well as nasal congestion, a runny nose, postnasal drip, sneezing and sometimes an itching of the skin. But many of these symptoms can also be experienced with viral infections such as the common cold.
“We are still learning about COVID-19, but there tends to be pulmonary symptoms, at least in the moderate to severe patients,” said Hoyte. “Allergies generally will not affect the lungs unless someone also has asthma, which can be triggered by allergies.”
Dr. Hoyte says that fever also sets COVID-19 apart from allergies. Allergies should not cause a fever, whereas the majority of COVID-19 cases have a fever at some point during the course of the disease.
Fatigue is another symptom of COVID-19 and Dr. Hoyte says that while really bad allergies can leave a person feeling tired, they are generally less fatigued and weak as compared to a typical moderate to severe COVID-19 patient.
“Individuals who have never had springtime allergies and are all of a sudden miserable from nasal symptoms and/or fatigue should consider discussing this with their providers,” said Dr. Hoyte.
It is more important now than ever before not to overwhelm our emergency rooms and medical facilities with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Hoyte says people with mild allergy symptoms should avoid going to an emergency room or urgent care facility.
But she says if your condition is not improving with typical over-the-counter medication, or if you develop a fever or breathing problem, you should contact your primary care provider or allergist to see if your symptoms warrant testing for COVID-19. Dr. Hoyte stresses that by going to a medical care facility prematurely you could actually put yourself at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because the number of cases in Colorado continues to grow.
Allergies can be a problem in Colorado from now until October. The pollen season will last until we see a killing freeze in the fall. The types of pollen that cause allergies to flare up can be divided into three main categories.
- Tree Pollen – runs from now through May and is already high. Symptoms can vary from month to month depending on which type of tree pollen you are allergic to and when that particular type of pollen hits a peak. It is entirely possible to have off and on symptoms over the next several weeks as the various tree species spring back to life, especially if you are allergic to more than one type of tree.
- Grass pollen – generally runs from late May through the month of August
- Weed pollen – generally begins in the middle of August and lasts until the growing season ends with a hard freeze in the fall.
The weather plays a large role in how pollen can affect people. A windy day causes it to be blown around making it more likely to be inhaled, which then increases the symptoms. And while rainy days can offer a bit of relief because the pollen settles out of the air, rain also allows plants to grow which can yield higher pollen counts when the weather dries out.
You can click here to get the latest pollen count from National Jewish Health.