Healthy Living: Peace of mind amid allergy season

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Coughing in public is something most of us have desperately tried to avoid throughout this pandemic. If you have allergies, that may feel like an impossible task right now.

The last 12 months have been anything but normal, but Dr. David Jeong, the section head of allergy with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health System, says one thing that is on par with previous years is the allergy season.

"It is tough, I mean you go outside or open the windows and doors and you are kind of already exposed."

Maybe you have never been impacted by seasonal allergies, well Dr. Jeong says you are not necessarily out of the woods, "You could definitely have adult-onset allergies that sneak up on you and hit you later on."

Dr. Jeong says you may not show signs of allergies until you move to a new area, so if you are a transplant to the Pacific Northwest, you may deal with new issues, "There are different types of pollens that you might experience or encounter on the west side of the country as opposed to the east or the Midwest."

Classic symptoms for allergy sufferers include sneezing, itchy nose and watery eyes. There are some symptoms though that do overlap with viral illnesses like COVID-19.

"It can be tricky at first to figure out, which one you are dealing with."

Coughing, shortness of breath, runny nose, stuffiness and fatigue. So how do you know it is just allergies and not something worse?

"Are your symptoms more prolonged and chronic and coinciding with what we know in terms of pollen being in the environment."

Dr. Jeong says look at context clues like have you been exposed to anybody you know that has been sick with COVID-19. If it still too hard to tell, it is time to get help from your doctor.

If you just want some peace of mind though, "I would say if you have any of the symptoms that overlap between allergies and a potential infection, and it’s just not clear, it might be just the best thing for you to go and get a test."

Getting a negative COVID test could give you the confidence to say that you were tested for the virus and that you were tested for the virus and that your cough or other symptoms are just from allergies, "I think just being honest, and being bold and confident and knowing your health and sharing that with people is probably the best we can do."

Dr. Jeong says wearing a mask might also alleviate some of the concerns those around you may have.

Now as far as treatments go, there are of course the over the counter medications, including nasal sprays, that Dr. Jeong says are proven to be effective for allergy sufferers. He says if these OTC products aren't offering you relief, there are prescriptions available through your allergist or primary care doctor.

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