With spring finally here, New Yorkers are eager to enjoy the great outdoors. But all that pollen in the air can trigger runny noses and scratchy throats, leaving some people feeling uncomfortable. These conditions are prompting some to question: Am I suffering from seasonal allergies, or possibly COVID-19?
Dr. Michael Green, associate medical director of Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care is helping New Yorkers distinguish which symptoms are seasonal allergies, and which may signal the need for a COVID-19 test.
“If your eyes are watery, and you’re sneezing constantly, the likelihood is you’re suffering from allergies,” Dr. Green said. “But if you’re nauseous, feverish, achy or maybe coughing and feeling short of breath, it’s best to consult your medical practitioner.”
While we are not aware of any studies that show an increased risk of COVID-19 due to allergies, Dr. Green said, “There have been some studies that show there is an increased expression of receptors for rhinovirus, a virus that causes the common cold, in those with allergies, which has raised the possibility of increased viral infection, But the jury is still out on this as it has not been proven in real world practice.”
Those with spring allergies will want to pay special attention to their masks.
“As an allergy sufferer myself, I find that my mask is more likely to get contaminated with nasal secretions during allergy season,” Dr. Green said. “This leads to changing my mask more often. In general, whenever it gets soiled it should be changed, as a wet mask is not as effective. Further, increased moisture on the skin from nasal secretions can lead to skin breakdown and bacterial skin infections. If you develop a rash under the mask line, you should seek medical advice.”
When it comes to spring allergies, the Greater New York area placed 45th in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Seasonal Ranking of Most Challenging Places to Live. Yet during peak allergy season, New Yorkers can take preventive measures to minimize symptoms.
“Leaving shoes outside the door, for example, prevents the tracking of pollen into the home,” Dr. Green said.
“Once inside, shower and shampoo to remove allergens, and put the clothes worn outdoors into the laundry basket,” Dr. Green said. “Keep windows shut during peak pollen hours, opting for air-conditioning instead, and consider a HEPA filter for your home, and in your vacuum cleaner, to help eliminate allergens.”
Still suffering? Speak with a medical practitioner about anti-histamines, or possibly allergy shots. Learn more about coping with allergies by visiting Northwell Health-GoHealthUrgent Care.
A medical practitioner can help New Yorkers understand how to address symptoms. Most Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers are open extended hours from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. New Yorkers can Save a Spot through the center’s online reservation service, or schedule a Virtual Visit. For more information, visit gohealthuc.com.
Information provided by Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care