Eversince the Covid-19 pandemic, every cold, cough, sneeze or fever brings out the fear of the Coronavirus. The common cold seems to always come with the news of a new Corona variant. But while the symptoms are parallel, seasonal allergies always spike around the time of spring and should not be confused with Covid.
What are the sources of allergies?
Pollen grains, fungal spores, foods, insects, and dust mites are major sources of allergens in the Indian subcontinent.
Rising temperatures and higher CO2 levels result in an increase in the pollination cycle of weeds, thereby increasing the pollen load in the air. Pollen grains released by trees, grasses and weeds are also carried through air this time of the year.
Additionally, the tropical and subtropical climatic conditions of India along with high humidity are favourable for the growth of microbes and mold, which can trigger allergies if found in indoor spaces. Growth of fungal spores is also aided by the warm and moist temperature.
Why do we get allergies?
When someone who is prone to allergies comes in contact with an allergen (the trigger), the immune system responds to it by releasing antibodies that are meant to attack it. This leads to a release of chemicals in the blood called histamines which can cause a runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, itchy sinuses, throat or ear irritability.
So is it COVID or is it allergies?
Keep a check on the duration and timelines of your symptoms. Covid symptoms have no seasonal affect, whereas, allergies do. Allergy symptoms continue with the exposure to triggers, whereas, Covid symptoms are short-term. Also, distinguish between the symptoms, like loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath are usually linked to Covid-19, unless you have a history.
How to protect yourself from allergens?
Prevention is better than cure. Avoid exposure to allergens if you are prone to developing allergies or have conditions such as asthma that can be triggered by allergens.
Keep your windows closed to prevent spring winds from bringing pollen grains into your indoor air.
Wear a mask in this season to avoid inhaling pollen or spores when going out. It also gives additional protection from viral or bacterial spores.
Pollen counts are usually highest during late morning and early afternoon, so avoid venturing out at such times.
Change your clothes once you’re home and wash them thoroughly to rid them of any trapped pollen in the fabric.
Most importantly, when in doubt, consult an expert. Seek medical advice for your symptoms and always provide true and complete history to your doctor.