Seasonal allergies are reportedly worse this year as climate change and warmer temperatures cause longer tree and grass pollen seasons. And this year’s fall allergies are no exception, with ragweed pollination and mold spores traveling in the air for much longer duration and distance, as temperatures rise.
Seasonal allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe, including itchy eyes, ears, nose or skin, watery eyes, sinus pain and congestion, sneezing, coughing, headache, and shortness of breath for those with pollen-induced asthma.
With the Delta variant of COVID-19 and fall allergies occurring at the same time, every symptom can be concerning. While these conditions share many similar symptoms, there are clear distinctions.
According to Dr. Alan Goldsobel of Allergy & Asthma Associates of Northern California, and Adjunct Clinical Professor at Stanford University, “Fever is always the primary differentiating factor between allergies and any infection, including COVID-19. In fully vaccinated people who do develop COVID-19, the symptoms are often mild, but frequently may have brief, low-grade fever and cold-like symptoms. Loss of smell and taste is very rarely seen with allergies.
“Other symptoms that would make it unlikely to be allergies include myalgia and chills. Giveaways that it’s just allergies would be the time of year (for those with seasonal allergies), as well as itching,” continued Dr. Goldsobel.
Dr. Goldsobel recommends getting a COVID-19 test with any fever or unusual symptoms that come with your seasonal allergies.
Here are some tips to help you cope better with fall allergies:
- Wear a mask to prevent inhaling larger particles of pollen and wash it after each use.
- Avoidance measures are best – stay indoors when pollen levels are high; keep doors and windows closed.
- Use your air conditioner and be sure to clean the filter weekly.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC suggests creating a cleaner air space at home to protect against outdoor air irritants – a portable air cleaner/purifier helps and works best when run continuously with doors and windows closed.
- Consider allergy desensitization treatments (allergy injections or sublingual tablets)
Over-the-counter treatments such as eye drops, nasal sprays, or antihistamines may relieve symptoms but if you’re sensitive to medications, consider clinically effective treatments like ClearUP® Sinus Pain Relief – it’s 100% drug-free, FDA-cleared and uses gentle microcurrent technology to relieve sinus pain and congestion.
 “Anthropogenic climate change is worsening North American pollen seasons,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2/16/2021, https://www.pnas.org/content/118/7/e2013284118.
COVID-Flu-Cold-Allergies Symptoms Chart (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
2021 Allergy Capitals Report (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)