The allergy season is coming! And coping with the increased symptoms while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can be both daunting and fearful. So it's not strange to have a few questions about allergies now …
Fortunately, the Allergy Foundation of South Africa recently hosted a webinar with pediatrician and allergist Dr. Candice Royal, dedicated to answering questions about allergies and COVID-19. Let's take a look at some of the key findings from the conversation.
Q: How can I tell if my symptoms are due to an allergy or a possible COVID-19 infection?
Dr. Candice Royal: “Some allergy symptoms overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. If you have a stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough, you may think you have COVID-19. For this reason, it is always important to make sure that your rhinitis is under control and that you take specific measures to alleviate your allergy symptoms so that you can limit the diagnostic confusion. "
Q: My allergies make wearing a mask uncomfortable. Is there an alternative?
DCR: “Just to explain the basics – a mask is mainly worn to prevent your droplets from being spread to other people. So the primary intention is not to protect you, but to protect others. It is a very important public health measure to reduce infections.
"However, if you find it difficult to wear a mask, you can alternatively wear a visor / face shield instead.
“The real question is probably why your allergic rhinitis is getting out of control and whether there are simple adjustments to your treatment plan that could further alleviate your symptoms. I would suggest contacting your doctor and going through everything again to make sure that your management treatment is as efficient as possible and that you don't have excessive allergen exposure. "
Q: I wear an EpiPen for my allergy. If I get a severe form of COVID-19 and become short of breath, would using my EpiPen help my breathing, as would anaphylaxis?
DCR: “An EpiPen is an adrenaline auto-injector and its job is to offer emergency treatment after being exposed to an allergen that has caused a severe reaction. It gives you a quick dose of adrenaline, which helps to eliminate this allergic reaction.
"So this is a completely different mechanism than the shortness of breath caused by diseases like COVID-19. Unfortunately, an EpiPen doesn't help if you have respiratory problems of another cause – it is specifically designed to treat anaphylaxis or severe reactions."
Q: I have eczema and disinfectants are a problem for my skin due to the frequent use. What can I do to improve this?
DCR: “Consider washing your hands more often with water and glycerin soap than with a hand sanitizer. Of course, you often need to use a hand sanitizer when entering shopping centers or at work. If this is the case, you should use a softening cream immediately afterwards.
"Take softeners with you everywhere so you can ensure that your hands are always moisturized after using a hand sanitizer."
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Q: My son should start desensitizing the peanuts shortly before the ban, but we got a grip on that for now. Is there a time frame for this?
DCR: “The younger you are at the start of this process, the more effective it appears to be. However, we have no age limit per se. We have seen teenagers successfully go through this process. But the earlier you start, the better. "
Q: Is there a special diet that can help with asthma and allergies during this time?
DCR: "There is no specific diet we recommend for asthma. Of course, if you have a food allergy, you should exclude that particular type of food from your diet. However, with a healthy diet, this is not a complicated thing. It is about that to go on a diet with a large selection of good fruits and vegetables and to consume sufficient sources of all important macro and micronutrients.
"We cannot recommend a special diet to people with asthma and allergies. It is just a matter of applying general health measures that apply to the general population."
Q: I have idiopathic anaphylaxis [severe allergic reactions with no apparent cause] and I have fits three to four times a year. After each episode, I am often prescribed steroids and antihistamines for a long time. Do these drugs increase my risk of COVID-19?
DCR: “It seems that steroids can make you more susceptible to infections in general. However, we still have no good evidence that steroids increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection or a more severe case of COVID-19. We have indications [however] that people with steroids may excrete the virus for longer.
"Remember that it is always better to take your control medication than not, so if these are the medications you need, it is recommended that you stay on top of them and not wean yourself off them."
Q: I have allergies to acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs and I am concerned that COVID-19 will be difficult to treat. What should I do?
DCR: "An allergy to medication does not make you more susceptible to infection or severe COVID-19. However, if you are allergic to the medication that we commonly use to treat symptoms, I recommend that you speak to your doctor to get one To find an alternative. "
Q: How should I generally deal with the treatment of my allergies?
DCR: “It is important to understand that allergic diseases do not appear in isolation and must be treated holistically. They affect the overall emotional, psychological and physical well-being. For example, eczema doesn't just have a skin condition – it has a huge impact on how you feel. If you constantly itch and scratch, you feel irritated, restless, cannot get a good night's sleep, you are exhausted and so on.
"It is therefore important to understand – especially in these times of fear – that you should not only focus on the physical management of your symptoms, but also on your emotional and mental health."
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