Srinagar: Spring arrives in Kashmir— and that means your seasonal allergies could start to bother you.
What is a seasonal allergy?
As plants release pollen into the air, many people are dreading the impending discomfort in the form of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies — also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis — are a reaction to pollen, the yellowish powder that we often see building upon our cars in the spring.
When you come in contact with pollen grains, your immune system mistakes pollen for an intruder. It then responds to this perceived invader by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause the telltale symptoms of an allergy, such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, they can be treated and controlled.
Allergies can be mistaken for viral infections like Covid-19
Community Medicine Specialist Dr. Sheikh Mohammad Saleem said with the winter cold, flu, and the peak of the Omicron coronavirus variant just behind us, we may still be thinking about viruses when our allergy symptoms begin to flare.
He said that allergies can be difficult to distinguish from a viral infection, including Covid-19, due to the overlap in symptoms such as sinus congestion, headache, sneezing, and cough.
That said, he pointed out that the symptoms of Covid-19 infections can now range from asymptomatic to mild upper or lower respiratory symptoms, to severe pneumonia.
“So, what do you do if you’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms? It’s recommended to get a Covid-19 test early if you think you have the disease and seek help if you have trouble breathing or show other signs of an emergency,” Dr. Saleem said.
How to manage allergy symptoms?
Dr. Saleem suggested that allergy symptoms can be managed through avoidance and proper medication.
“While you can’t completely avoid pollen, you can minimize your exposure by keeping windows closed in your home and car. Also, on days with high pollen counts, try to stay indoors to limit your exposure as much as possible,” he said.
He said adherence to Covid appropriate behavior is a great way to tackle allergies. “The N95 mask is very helpful for such patients against the allergens in the air,” Dr. Saleem said.
He added, nasal spray and antihistamines can give you relief from your symptoms as well. “You can also get professional help from an allergist, who can help you identify what you’re allergic to through skin or blood tests and create a treatment plan.”