PHOENIX - Allergy season is back in Arizona and it's making its presence known just as we head into March. However, it's causing some concern as some struggle to differentiate allergies from COVID-19 symptoms.
Doctors say they're seeing many people heading in for treatments for their allergies and that there is always something in the air in Arizona, allergy-wise.
As allergies are ramping up while we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the symptoms are very confusing for patients looking for relief.
"The plants need it to warm up and they will start pollinating and the second thing you see is it was very windy so that stirs up with the pollens around," explains Dr. Michael Manning, President of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Allergy season takes effect in mid-February and ramps up in March. That's when Manning sees many of his patients come in with symptoms.
"You start seeing a lot of watery, itchy eyes and any more eye symptoms can be very severe. A lot of nasal symptoms, itching, very congested," he explained.
Lydia Moraca is one of Manning’s patients. She comes in two times a week for her allergy shot because if she doesn’t, her symptoms worsen.
"My eyes will be really itchy and I get a lot of sleep buildup. I sneeze constantly, my throat itches and fatigue," she explains.
Many of these symptoms are similar to those of the cold, flu and even COVID-19, so patients are coming in with an added stress,
wondering what their symptoms mean.
"We have had patients coming in wondering if it's allergies or coronavirus infection," Manning said.
There is some good news in all of this. Manning says the masks we wear as a result of the pandemic are helping protect us from breathing in pollen-causing allergens.
However, there are still steps we need to take to get those allergens off of us.
"Try and avoid what you can. So closing windows, home and car, filtering the air. If you have been outside, take a shower at night so you aren’t sleeping with all of that in your hair," Manning said.
For anyone new to the Valley, Manning says it can take about a year to 5 years to develop allergies if you're already prone to them.
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.