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Spotting differences between allergies & COVID-19

Local doctor shares his expertise
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 3:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It’s the downside to such a nice time of year.

“As soon as the winds start picking up, sure enough we start seeing more allergy symptoms,” said Dr. David Lemak, Division chief of Urgent Care at Renown.

As many of you who have already had to reach for medicine know, allergy season is upon us, and our area is full of plants that can make it difficult.

“There is a large percentage of folks who react to the sagebrush,” Lemak said. “But in the spring when everything is blooming anything that produces pollen can produce allergens.”

Dr. Lemak acknowledges that allergy season during a pandemic is complicated.

“Just this past week we have seen several folks with overlapping symptoms,” he explained. “If they have dry cough, or loss of taste and smell then we know they are likely to have COVID unfortunately.”

But the main question we asked him was, what do you look for if you don’t have those symptoms and aren’t sure if what you are feeling is COVID, or just allergies?

“With allergies the most common difference with COVID is itching,” he said, saying COVID doesn’t lead to itchy and watery eyes. “Allergies don’t produce fever, so if you have one, it’s far more likely to be something like COVID.”

Dr. Lemak says the vaccines are helping the situation, but the dry season is not, and as the recent snow survey suggests, this winter has been a lot drier than normal.

“Typically when we have a dry allergy season, we see more allergies, so I think this will be at least above average.”

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