Allergy vs. COVID-19 symptoms; what symptoms to look out for

Allergy vs. COVID-19 symptoms; what symptoms to look out for
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Positive cases of COVID-19 increase each day as more people continue to get tested for the virus.

Some people may be at home wondering whether they have allergies, the flu or the novel coronavirus.

Baton Rouge General Rhinologist Dr. Henry Barham said it can be frustrating because a lot of the symptoms do appear to mimic each other.

ONE-STOP-SHOP: Everything you need to know related to Baton Rouge area impact of COVID-19

“It’s an important point that you know of all the people infected about 80 percent will not show symptoms or will show very mild symptoms ranging from decreased sense of smell, altered sense of smell or taste, which is now evidently one of the first symptoms that will come on…ranging all the way up to a runny nose, G.I. symptoms, cough, fever and shortness of breath which are really the hallmarks of COVID-19," said Dr. Barham.

Allergy vs. COVID-19 symptoms; what symptoms to look out for - Dr. Henry Barham

If you normally suffer from allergies you will know what to expect.

“The biggest thing is if you have a history of allergies, if you have a history of sinusitis, you’ve had these last year, you had this the year before that’s actually reassuring," he explained. "If you’re having the similar symptoms that you had last year, continue to do what you normally do. Take your antihistamines, take your nasal sprays or saline sprays, do the things you’ve done in the past.”

If you start noticing symptoms like running a fever, coughing or shortness of breath call your healthcare provider.

They will be the ones to determine whether you are eligible for COVID-19 testing.

To reduce your risk of catching or potentially spreading germs it’s important to practice social distancing and staying at home.

“I do believe that everyone should behave as if they are infected with COVID-19. What do I mean by that? Stay at home, quarantine, as ordered by our governor. We’ve got to protect our community," said Dr. Barham.

COVID-19 is a new virus to the world and the healthcare industry is learning so much about it.

“We’ve known about it now for just a few months so we’re learning as we go,” said Dr. Christian Hall, a Baton Rouge General Rhinologist. "One of the things we’re learning about the virus is it seems to infect us through our nose. So not only is hand hygiene important, but nasal hygiene may play an important role in trying to prophylaxis or reduce viral loads. We don’t have really good data on that but while you’re trying to do whatever you can to flatten the curve and to reduce your risk of getting infected as well.”

Allergy vs. COVID-19 symptoms; what symptoms to look out for - Dr. Christian Hall

It might be worth trying this option to maintain good nasal hygiene.

“In addition to washing your hands rinsing your nose with a salt water bottle," he said. "They sell these things over the counter. Commercial products are things like a NeilMed, lavage or a Nedi Pot. You can buy salt packets. You can add 1-2 salt packets and even a drop of baby shampoo. I use it several times a day and I rinse my nose out with the idea of in addition to having hand hygiene to have nasal hygiene as well.”

Dr. Hall explained there isn’t great data on this but he said this method will not hurt you.

Both doctors explained the best way to prevent spreading germs by listening and following the Governor’s Stay at home order.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of the social distancing. Everyone should just operate under the assumption for the present time that they may be infected regardless of how they feel. Perhaps, especially if you feel okay because you could be a silent carrier and if we’re going to fail to flatten the curve it’s going to be due to the fact that people who feel good are continuing to out and interact with others," said Dr. Hall.

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