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One challenge the coronavirus poses is that symptoms of the resulting disease, COVID-19, can resemble those of other conditions, like influenza or the common cold.
Now, the arrival of spring brings a new complication: Coughing and wheezing could mean a person has contracted the viral infection that has become a global pandemic — or signal nothing more than the start of seasonal allergies.
A key difference is that springtime allergies typically do not cause fevers, as COVID-19 does, according to Dr. Lakiea Wright, an allergy specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital who also works as a medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
As allergy sufferers seek to distinguish what's normal from what could be more serious, "it's really about knowing your symptoms," Wright said, "and if you have common environmental symptoms, like watery, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, then knowing what time of year you have those symptoms."
People who think they may have the coronavirus should call their doctors.
Some of the measures people take to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus, such as wiping surfaces with disinfectants, can also cut down on pollen, Wright noted.
She added that she's also "had phone calls from asthma patients asking, 'What should I do?' Of course, there's a lot of anxiety about coronavirus, and lung disease is considered an underlying condition that may put you at higher risk for moderate to severe disease, if you were to contract corona."
Wright's guidance is to stock at least a three-month supply of medication, "now that we have restrictions on our movement."
And for people with eczema, she said, keeping a vat of moisturizer is a good idea, "since we all have to practice good hand hygiene, which can dry out our hands."
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