In an interview with HCPLive, Rosenberger mentioned that every conversation with a patient is an opportunity to educate them on their potential allergies and treatment methods, especially at a time when concerns regarding the delta variant are prominent.
With the dawning of cold and flu season and ongoing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with allergies have experienced increased anxiety and doubt regarding their overall health and safety.
Additionally, many of the symptoms of the delta variant are shared with patients grappling with their allergies in the coming months.
This could reasonably lead to patients to believe they have the delta variant.
Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other health care professionals have worked tirelessly to educate patients on some of the discrepancies between allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms.
In an interview with HCPLive, Rebecca Rosenberger, MMSc, PA-C, Allergy Diagnostic & Treatment Center, and Associate Director, Clinical Affairs & Education at Thermo Fisher Scientific, spoke of determining and treating specific allergies in patients, a process that can help mitigate fears of the delta variant and benefit patients who struggle with seasonal allergies.
Rosenberger noted that about 60% of the US population is currently in a medium-to-high pollen status, which is often driven by weed pollens and some molds.
Additionally, patient populations such as children are once again entering schools, which always increases cases of respiratory viruses.
To the untrained eye, a respiratory virus could be mistaken for the delta variant. But there are key differences.
“With COVID-19, one of the different symptoms is fever,” Rosenberger said. “Allergies do not typically cause fever. Some people can get a secondary infection, like a sinus infection that you may have fever with, but that acute fever is one of the differentiating symptoms between allergies and COVID-19.”
Regardless, Rosenberger added that different risk categories, as well as high risk populations for both allergies and the delta variant such as asthmatic patients, should always be considered.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants often engage with patients, asking them what their concerns are, what symptoms they have been experiencing, and their potential allergy history.
“It is really about validating the symptoms that the patient is having, first and foremost, understanding what the timing (of the symptom) is, the severity of (the symptoms), and then working through that next best step for that patient,” Rosenberger said.
The “next best step” can vary depending on the patient. At times, recommendations such as the avoidance of allergens such as pollen and mold can make all the difference.
Other times, recommendations for in vitro blood tests and skin prick tests may be recommended to gain a better understanding of a patient’s symptoms.
Though nurse practitioners and physician assistants often lead the charge regarding the conversations had about allergy symptoms and symptom diagnosis, Rosenberger urged every healthcare professional to remain engaged with their patients.
“Every touchpoint that we have with a patient is an opportunity, and we never know when their next opportunity for a little bit of education is going to happen,” Rosenberger said. “Regardless of what credentials are behind your name, or not, if you have that knowledge, it really is up to each of us to have that education with a patient and really meet them where they are.”
To hear more from Rebecca Rosenberger’s interview with HCPLive, and how to mitigate allergy symptoms, watch the video above.