How can I inform if my signs are allergy symptoms or a potential COVID-19 an infection?
The allergy season is just around the corner! And dealing with the heightened symptoms while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can be both daunting and anxiety-relieving. So it’s not uncommon to have a few questions about allergies right now …
Fortunately, the Allergy Foundation of South Africa recently hosted a webinar specifically devoted to answering questions about allergies and COVID-19 with pediatrician and allergist Dr. Candice Royal was dedicated. Let’s look at some of the key takeaways from the conversation.
Q: How can I tell if my symptoms are from my allergy or a possible COVID-19 infection?
Dr. Candice Royal: “Some allergy symptoms overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you have a stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough, you might think you have COVID-19. For this reason, it is always important to make sure that your rhinitis is under control and that you are prioritizing certain measures to alleviate your allergy symptoms in order to limit diagnostic confusion. ”
Q: My allergies make wearing a mask uncomfortable. Is there an alternative?
DCR: “Just to go over the basics – a mask is most often worn to prevent your droplets from getting passed on to other people. So the primary intent is not to protect you, but to protect others. It is a very important public health measure to reduce infection.
“But if you find it difficult to wear a mask, the alternative might be to wear a visor / face shield instead.
“The real question is probably why your allergic rhinitis is getting out of hand and whether there are simple adjustments to your treatment plan that could further alleviate your symptoms. I would suggest that you contact your doctor and go over everything to make sure that your treatment is as efficient as possible and that you do not have excessive allergen exposure. “
Q: I am wearing an EpiPen for my allergy. If I get a severe form of COVID-19 and find it difficult to breathe, would using my EpiPen help my breathing like I would if I had anaphylaxis?
DCR: “An EpiPen is an adrenaline auto-injector and its job is to provide emergency treatment after exposure to an allergen that has caused a severe reaction. It works by giving you a quick dose of adrenaline, which helps stop this allergic reaction.
“So this is a completely different mechanism than the shortness of breath caused by diseases like COVID-19. Unfortunately, an EpiPen does not help if you have other respiratory symptoms – it is specifically used to treat anaphylaxis or severe reactions. “
Q: I have eczema and disinfectants are proving to be a problem for my skin due to their frequent use. What can i do to make this better?
DCR: “Consider washing your hands with water and glycerine soap more often than with hand sanitizer. Of course, when you go to malls or to work, you will often need to use hand sanitizer, and if you do – use an emollient cream immediately afterwards.
“Carry emollients everywhere so you can make sure your hands are always moisturized after using a hand sanitizer.”
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Q: My son was supposed to start desensitizing peanuts just before the lockdown, but we’ve put it on hold for now. Is there an age limit for this?
DCR: “It seems that the younger you are, the more effective it is when you start this process. But we don’t have an age limit per se. We have seen teenagers successfully go through this process. But the earlier you start, the better. “
Q: Is there a special diet that can help with asthma and allergies during this time?
DCR: “When it comes to asthma, there is no specific diet that we recommend. Naturally, if you have a food allergy, you will exclude that particular type of food from your diet. But when it comes to eating healthy, it’s not complicated. It’s about having a diet high in a wide variety of good fruits and vegetables and consuming adequate sources of all essential macro and micronutrients.
“We cannot recommend a specific diet for people with asthma and allergies – it is all about the use of general health measures that would apply to the general population.”
Q: I have idiopathic anaphylaxis [severe allergic reactions with no obvious cause] and have seizures three to four times a year. I am often prescribed steroids and antihistamines for long periods of time after each episode – do these drugs increase my risk of COVID-19?
DCR: “It seems to be the case that steroids can make you more susceptible to infections in general. However, we don’t yet have good evidence that steroid use makes you more susceptible to COVID-19 infection or a more severe case of COVID-19. We do [however] have evidence that people who take steroids can shed the virus longer.
“Remember, it is always better to take your medication for control than not.
Q: I have allergies to acetaminophen and anti-inflammatories and I am concerned that COVID-19 will be difficult to treat. What should I do?
DCR: “An allergy to medication does not make you more susceptible to infections or to severe COVID-19. However, if you have allergies to the drugs we commonly use to treat the symptoms, I would advise you to speak to your doctor to find an alternative. “
Q: How should I generally go about treating my allergies?
DCR: “It is important to understand that allergic diseases do not occur in isolation and must be treated holistically. They affect overall emotional, psychological and physical well-being. For example, having eczema isn’t just about having a skin condition – it has a huge impact on how you feel. Constant itching and scratching makes you feel irritated, restless, cannot sleep well, is exhausted and so on.
“Therefore, it is important – especially in these anxious times – to understand that you should not only focus on treating your symptoms physically, but also paying attention to your emotional and mental health.”
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