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Now that we have been contending with the COVID-19 pandemic, the first sign of any sneeze or sniffle sends many people into a panic. Even people who suffer from seasonal allergies may have a difficult time distinguishing their usual allergy symptoms from the signs of COVID-19 since many of the symptoms overlap.

Making things even more complicated, the spring allergy season — which typically falls between March and May — is predicted to be worse in 2021 than in years past.  Despite the rough winter, spring is expected to be warm and dry, which means more pollen and a big spike in allergies.

Unlike COVID-19, seasonal allergies are not caused by a virus. Seasonal allergies are immune system responses triggered by exposure to allergens, such as seasonal tree or grass pollens. COVID-19 and seasonal allergies cause many of the same signs and symptoms. However, there are some differences.

COVID-19 Symptoms

The COVID-19 virus is spread through coughing, sneezing, and close personal contact.  According to the CDC, COVID-19 illnesses range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.

The following symptoms may appear 2 –14 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

We recommend following the CDC guidelines and those of your local health department to prevent the spread of the virus. If you think you might have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, talk to your doctor.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe. The most common include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Itchy sinuses, throat, or ear canals
  • Ear congestion
  • Postnasal drainage
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

Again, allergies are caused by a response in the immune system and are not contagious. Medications can treat your symptoms, and immunotherapy can help those with allergies find relief.

If you do feel under the weather and you do suffer from seasonal allergies, it is important to take your temperature to make sure you are not running a fever. A fever is one of the telltale signs of COVID-19 and the biggest differentiator from allergies.

Preventing Allergies

If you are prone to allergies, there are some ways to lessen your exposure to the things that might trigger your symptoms.

  • Stay inside with the windows closed when the pollen count is high. Many weather reports, whether on TV, online, or on an app, include pollen counts as part of the coverage.
  • Install a HEPA filter on your air-conditioning system.
  • Avoid cutting the grass, pulling weeds, and other gardening chores that can stir up allergies.
  • After spending time outdoors, take a shower and change your clothes to remove any traces of allergens that may have attached themselves to your hair, skin, and clothing. It is a good idea to leave your shoes at the door.
  • With COVID-19, many of us got used to wearing a mask in public places. It is a good idea for allergy sufferers to wear a mask when outdoors, especially during high pollen times, to reduce the number of allergens that enter your airways.

Know Your Triggers

More than 50 million Americans experience some type of allergy each year. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

In addition to the seasonal allergies mentioned above, which are the most common, there are other types of allergies that can impact you. These include:

Skin Allergies – Plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are the most common skin allergy triggers. But skin contact with certain foods or latex may cause skin allergy symptoms too. Skin inflammation, eczema, hives, and rashes are outward signs of a skin allergy. Infants and children under 4 years of age are most likely to have skin allergies.

Food Allergies – There are several foods that cause most food allergy reactions. Peanuts are the most common allergen, followed by milk, soy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. The risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction, is extremely high with food allergies.

Drug Allergies – Medications can also trigger life-threatening reactions. Penicillin is the most common drug allergy trigger. About 10 percent of people report being allergic to this common antibiotic.

Allergy Testing

Not so long ago, people, including many children, were subjected to hundreds of needle pricks containing different possible allergens to determine which ones caused the strongest reactions.

Now, all it takes is a simple blood draw using only one needle to look for the specific antibodies to hundreds of substances.

Any Lab Test Now® offers a Basic Combination Allergy Panel, which tests for allergies to 45 different environmental triggers and 45 different food allergies.

There is no fasting required. You do not need a doctor’s order or an appointment to get tested. Once the results come back, usually within three days, you will know which substances trigger your allergies. Depending on the type of allergies, you can also work with your doctor on any medications that might reduce your symptoms.

Be at Ease

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including determining your allergy triggers.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now store at www.anylabtestnow.com.