Is it allergies or COVID?

With many experiencing seasonal allergies, Health Team Director Margee Brennan offers guidance for navigating the overlap in symptoms with those of the coronavirus.
By Margee Brennan, Health Team Director

If the layer of yellow dust on cars isn't evidence enough that we're fully in spring allergy season, then all the sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and watery eyes should make it clear. It seems like the answer is to start up the antihistamines, stay indoors, and just soldier on. Unfortunately, just like we dealt with on a smaller scale in the fall, allergy symptoms during a pandemic make for plenty of confusion. 

It's easy to rationalize many allergy symptoms as the usual, whether for yourself or your child. Add in that many of us are vaccinated, or partially so, and it becomes easier to dismiss the notion that these symptoms could be a sign of COVID-19 infection. Still, we are seeing positive coronavirus cases globally, locally, and at USN. 

The Venn diagram here illustrates just how much allergies and COVID-19 symptoms overlap, and it may be helpful in determining if a COVID-19 test is in order. Anecdotally, we have seen cases of COVID-19 that present as usual allergy symptoms. The good news is that COVID-19 testing has become more accessible and timely than it was in the fall, so keeping your congested student home for a day may be all it takes to confirm that it's just allergies. 

The Metro Public Health assessment centers continue to turn around PCR results in under 24 hours, and since the end of February, USN has offered PCR tests using a local lab with results returned by evening if submitted before noon. The Health Team is happy to help you navigate the question of allergies or COVID-19; we encourage you to email us anytime or call 615-277-7380 during school hours. Thanks for continuing to keep your guard up and do your part to keep the USN community safe. We are not in the clear yet.

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