HOW TO MANAGE ALLERGIES DURING COVID-19

HOW TO MANAGE ALLERGIES DURING COVID-19

Use these top tips to help manage your and your child’s allergies during Covid-19.

Seven months ago we had never even heard about the novel Corona Virus or COVID-19. Fast-forward to today; COVID-19 forms part of our daily conversation. It impacts every decision we make. Whether we should go to work, send our kids to school, restock our fridge or visit our parents. Who could have thought that something as microscopically tiny as this could cause such enormous levels of anxiety as well as total devastation! For patients who suffer from allergies, there is much conflicting discussion and opinion in the medical world. Our knowledge of COVID-19 is ever growing and evolving. Below we look at COVID-19 in allergy sufferers as we understand it today. This will help you manage your child’s allergies during Covid-19.

The 5 C’s of how to manage your allergies during the Corona pandemic:

  1. COVID-19, common cold or allergies?

Allergies, the common cold and other viral flu-like illnesses share many features that are also common to COVID-19. For example, coughing or shortness of breath is associated with many viral illnesses as well as asthma. A runny nose occurs in both allergic rhinitis (hayfever) and the common cold. However, high temperatures, muscle pains and fatigue, which are common to COVID-19 and influenza, do not form part of the presentation asthma or hayfever. Another important clue to remember is that seasonal allergies tend to wax and wane. In a viral illness, such as flu or COVID-19, symptoms steadily worsen.

 

Here are the most common symptoms your family will display. Understanding what your child is suffering from will help you manage their allergies during Covid-19:

Asthma Hayfever Common cold Influenza COVID-19
Shortness of breath Runny nose and sneezing Runny nose and sneezing High temperature High temperature
Cough Itchy and watery eyes  Sore throat Cough Cough
Wheezing Post-nasal drip Fatigue Fatigue
Coughing Headaches Shortness of breath
Congestion Muscle pains Muscle pains
Diarrhoea Sore throat
Headache
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea

 

2. Control any underlying allergic conditions and take your chronic meds

You need to make sure that your, or your child’s asthma is well under control during this period. Although research has shown that mild to moderate asthma does not put one into a higher COVID risk category, poorly controlled asthma may lead to certain COVID-related complications. For this reason, good asthma control to prevent asthma exacerbations is key. According to numerous international allergy societies, regular asthma medications required for asthma control such as inhaled glucocorticoids, and montelukasts should not be discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because allergic rhinitis (hayfever) presents with sneezing, a runny nose, post-nasal drip and associated itchy eyes, it may be easy to mistake these symptoms for COVID. So it is important to control allergies, perhaps even to take antihistamine and nasal steroid medication ahead of allergy season to prevent mistaking COVID-19 for allergies.  It’s difficult to wear a mask if your nose and eyes are itching all the time. And you can’t touch your face.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: “There is no data that continuing these allergy and asthma medications will have any effect on increasing your risk of getting the COVID-19 infection. Or if you get the infection, lead to a worse outcome. It is important to control your allergy and asthma symptoms’’.

 

3. Be careful when using a nebuliser

The use of nebulisers is not recommended during the COVID pandemic as they have been found to increase the risk of aerosol spread of the virus particles. Alternative options to nebulizers are asthma pumps, in young children with a spacer attached, to deliver bronchodilator medication.

 

4. Consult your doctor if you have concerns

Always consult your doctor when it comes to managing your child’s allergies – especially during Covid-19. If you or your child experience any symptoms of chest tightness, difficulty breathing or wheezing, consult your GP. Doctors are still seeing the ‘usual’ winter respiratory illnesses, and so any worrying symptoms should be discussed with your healthcare provider. If you develop symptoms suggestive of COVID, or have a positive COVID result, you must make your doctor aware so that the appropriate management steps can be taken.

 

Last but not least

Cover your nose and mouth with a mask, observe social distancing and wash your hands.

At this stage, these simple measures are our most effective defence against COVID-19!

Dr Tamara Jaye

Dr Tamara Jaye is a medical doctor with diplomas in Child Health and Allergology. She also holds a Masters Degree in Childhood Neurodevelopment. Dr Jaye practices in both the public and private sector in Johannesburg. She is also a mom of 3 sweet little girls.