How to identify sniffles, sneezing or cough is an allergy instead of COVID-19

How to identify sniffles, sneezing or cough is an allergy instead of COVID-19

When we feel unwell during the COVID-19 pandemic we ‘re told to stay home. But what if you don’t have infectious sniffles, sore throats or cough? And if there is hayfever or some allergic reaction that triggers them? You could do a lot more isolating than you need.

How to identify sniffles, sneezing or cough is an allergy instead of COVID-19

Although it can be difficult at times, there are ways to tell apart the respiratory symptoms caused by a virus and those triggered by an allergy.

What causes hayfever?

About one in five (21 per cent) suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis—more commonly known as hayfever. When each of these experiences a few episodes of hayfever annually, then 10 million to 20 million COVID-19 tests will be needed to remove infectious causes from allergies alone.

Hayfever has many of the same effects as viral respiratory illnesses, including colds, mild flu-like conditions, and COVID-19. This is because rhinitis refers to nose inflammation which has multiple causes.

Hayfever is caused by the interaction of your nose and/or eyes with microscopic environmental allergens, such as pollens (from grasses, plants or trees), dust mites, moulds and animal hair.

The immune system detects and develops antibodies to these airborne contaminants as harmful. These antibodies warn the immune system to release chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream the next time you come into contact with them, causing the inflammation that contributes to symptoms of hayfever.

Hayfever has historically a seasonal increase in late winter and spring when pollen counts from flowering trees and grass seeds are highest.

Yet there may be more hayfever in the autumn in certain parts of the country, due to two common causes of allergies: moulds, and an autumn rise in indoor dust mites.

A warming atmosphere was also related to increased rates of pollens and allergens to the environment and a rise in the frequency of asthma and hayfever.

What are the symptoms?

If you’re having seasonal hayfever, long-term chronic or vasomotor rhinitis, or a viral infection, you ‘re likely to experience similar symptoms of cold and flu.

You are going to have a runny or stuffy nose, too. Certain signs include sore throat; sneezing; cough; post-nasal gout — nasal mucus that goes down the throat back; and fatigue.

Yet there are two classic signs of hayfever which can help you distinguish allergies and viruses. Hayfever can cause you to have an itchy nose or throat; and when more serious, it can cause swollen, blue-coloured skin under your eyes (so-called allergic shiners).

Can we distinguish them?

Fever, heartburn or muscle fatigue

Hayfever does not cause heightened body temperature despite its name. Flu-like diseases cause fever, and muscle sore (myalgia), fatigue, and tiredness.

Allergies like hayfever may cause a mild irritation without the other symptoms, likely due to a stuffy nose and poor sleep.

Snoring, dark circles and exhaustion under the eyes

Nasal inflammation caused by hayfever and other forms of rhinitis also raises the snore potential during sleep time. So if you have those dark circles under your eyes, it’s probably down to constant poor-quality sleep, when nasal congestion so snoring get worse.

Itchy eyes and ears, with sneezing

An itchy nose and eyes as well as severe, persistent sneezing, are typical hayfever symptoms.

You can sneeze with a cold or flu but usually only within the infection’s first few days.

Less persistent signs

Allergic reactions tend to come and go from day to day, or even hour to hour, particularly if certain conditions are the source of offending allergens. Perennial rhinitis, much longer than any common cold or flu, can be present for weeks or months.

It is unusual for a cold to last longer than a week because by this time the body has fought off the infection. Exceptions to this are the effects of cough and sinus where the virus has caused but which continue for other reasons.

Anti-histamines

If the antihistamine drug improves your nasal symptoms then you possibly have an allergy or hayfever. Antihistamines do not allay common cold symptoms.

However, if your allergic reaction is more severe, antihistamines alone may be inadequate to completely suppress symptoms, even at greater doses than specified on the package, and a range of nasal sprays may need to be applied to the treatment.

How do we distinguish between the infectious and allergic causes?

They typically treat the symptoms of viral infections in “normal” times. However, we need a better understanding of what could cause our symptoms in the COVID-19 outbreak so that we are checked when it counts, not for undiagnosed hayfever.

But telling away viral and allergic rhinitis isn’t easy. Those with hayfever are also having respiratory colds and flu, complicating the picture even more.

When you think your symptoms might be attributable to allergy, a double dose of non-sedative antihistamine is safe to try. For small children, sedating antihistamines should be avoided, and used with caution for adults. Unless your symptoms dramatically improve within an hour, otherwise your symptoms are likely to be hayfever or another allergic reaction.

However, if your symptoms vary from past episodes of hayfever, or your symptoms do not improve after taking an antihistamine, that’s another thing. Remain at home, before COVID-19 can be checked.

Those with only moderately handled and managed hayfever would need to know your fellow driver, diner or shopper would be disturbed by your sniffles and sneezes. And maybe you need some professional support to treat your allergic condition more thoroughly.

How to identify sniffles, sneezing or cough is an allergy instead of COVID-19

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