Masks for allergies and COVID-19 | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Masks for allergies and COVID-19

Allergies and COVID-19, and when to wear a mask

Spring has sprung in the Ohio River Valley, and that means allergy season is upon us. Along with those beautiful blooms comes a host of allergy symptoms: sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, nasal congestion and more. This year is a little different, as we also face the global COVID-19 pandemic. Many wonder if symptoms are “just allergies” or worry whether it could be the coronavirus. How can you tell the difference, and what can you do about it?

Mary Rademaker, M.D., executive medical director for Norton Immediate Care Centers and Norton Prompt Care at Walgreens, said there are some ways to distinguish between seasonal allergies and COVID-19. Allergies may have some of the symptoms mentioned above, and may depend on a person’s specific allergy triggers.

“The COVID-19 virus tends to cause more flu-like symptoms, more body aches, fever, lower respiratory symptoms, cough,” Dr. Rademaker said.

But she cautions that some people might not have symptoms at all — what’s known about COVID-19 is that someone can have it and have very mild symptoms or no symptoms.

How do I protect myself and others?

“The best attitude is to assume everyone has COVID-19 and protect yourself as much as possible,” Dr. Rademaker said.

That means, of course, practicing social distancing and staying home except for absolute necessities such as groceries.

If you do go out, or you are in a place that is difficult to stay 6 feet away from others (a pharmacy, for example), you should wear a cloth mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said wearing cloth face masks can help decrease the spread of the virus.

According to Dr. Rademaker, while such masks are recommended to keep you from passing the COVID-19 virus unknowingly to others, they can help you as well.

“It keeps you from touching your face,” she said.

If you wear a cloth mask, make sure you follow the guidelines on wearing and cleaning it. According to Dr. Rademaker, if you’ve been in a public space and worn a cloth mask, as soon as you get home, take the mask off without touching the front of it, and immediately wash it.


COVID-19: What to Do

If you think you have COVID-19 and it is not an emergency, do not go to a hospital or doctor’s office. Use our COVID-19 questionnaire to determine if you need to seek care.

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