How Allergy Sufferers and Asthmatics can stay healthy during pandemic
It's a tricky spring season for anyone who typically struggles with allergies (which grass and trees are high right now) and those with asthma following a warm winter and a Covid-19 spring to this point.
Dr. Bruce Decotiis, an allergist and immunologist with Hackensack Meridian Health with offices in Brick and Wall, says there are certain symptoms that differentiate between allergies and a possible infection, but it's not easy to know the difference.
"If they have a fever or they have associated muscle aches or joint aches then it's much more likely to be an infection. Those things make the difference quite clear but we've had several cases especially in young people," Dr. Decotiis tells WOBM News. "This is such a prodian organism and it can present in so many variations. Some people just present gastrointestinal symptoms, some people just present with a low grade cough and never progress from there. So a lot of the younger people who are more likely to fight this off more quickly without any severe symptoms may have Covid and not really know it. If somebody has a dry non-productive cough even if they do have a history of having allergies that Covid is a possibility."
Shortness of breath is a symptom tossed in with a possible Covid-19 infection but how do people with asthma know the difference between their own symptoms flaring up or if it's the coronavirus?
Dr. Decotiis says if you don't have any other symptoms it may mean that it's just your asthma acting up.
"If you're an asthmatic and you're short of breath and you have no other symptoms, I think you can assume that this isn't Covid because the disease rarely presents with shortness of breath initially, usually it's a dry non-productive cough and other associated symptoms along with it," Decotiis said.
He said if it's severe enough to infect your lower respiratory tract then you'd have other symptoms.
With high tree, grass and pollen levels high right now, allergy sufferers and asthmatics are among those at risk who are trying to stay healthy.
Dr. Decotiis says anyone with asthma can test their own breathing levels with a peak flow meter.
"A peak flow meter is a little plastic gizmo that you blow into that gives you a number that represents the collective diameter of your breathing tubes and when you have any exacerbation of asthma your breathing tubes are constricted and your peak flow will drop," Decotiis said.
Dr. Decotiis says allergy sufferers can try an over the counter antihistamine of an inter-nasal spray to prevent and control symptoms from flaring up and even try taking a probiotic like low doses of Vitamin-B during the week.
It's important to take your medications regularly and try to avoid the sources of your allergens.
"Allergies are an accumulative affect so that if you're allergic to numerous allergens and you're exposed to numerous allergens in low concentrations, it can be as symptom producing as being exposed to one allergen in a high concentration," Decotiis said. "Even though you may be allergic to the allergens outside, it's still productive to try and minimize your indoor-outdoor allergen exposure and then you're tolerance for the outdoor allergens will be increased."