Doctors say there's overlap between seasonal allergies and coronavirus

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 18:50:20-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla — Whether you think you’re experiencing allergies or COVID-19, first things first. Doctors say avoid anyone you see coughing or sneezing.

That’s what infectious disease specialist Dr. Doug Brust is doing, even with patients. He said he’s asking everyone, even those with breathing trouble to call-in first. A safety measure, but still risky.

“It makes it even tougher to say whether or not they’re having asthma or they’re having COVID-19,” he said.

That’s a common concern since allergy season is happening simultaneously with the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Brust said there’s some overlap between coronavirus and seasonal allergies like shortness of breath, which can be caused by pollen and other triggers for asthmatics.

He said evaluating patients gets a little murky when respiratory viruses like COVID-19 cause asthma in people who don’t normally have it.

“Many people, their trigger to getting an asthma exacerbation is getting a viral infection,” he said.

Brust said that doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID-19. but seek professional help, just to be safe.

“If you’re short of breath in this time period, you should call your doctor. You just should. Just so you can be evaluated,” he said.

If it’s hard to breathe, but you don’t have flu-like symptoms - fever, body aches, Brust said you might be able to rule out COVID-19 with guidance from your doctor.

He said if you have seasonal allergies triggered by things like pollen, dust, or dander do what works for you. That means taking your allergy medicine before pollen gets out of hand, and carrying your inhaler if you have asthma.

Brust added whatever your symptoms, don’t just show up at your doctor’s office. Protect healthcare providers just as they protect you.
“If you do not stay home, or socially distance yourself, we’re going to get infected. And if we get infected, the whole system’s going to go crashing down,” said Brust.