The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology identify key practices for addressing allergies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the 2022 Spring Allergy Season rapidly approaching, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology identified key practices for addressing allergies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what patients and allergists can do to manage allergies in 2022.
Though cases of COVID-19 have risen and dropped throughout the pandemic, the virus is still playing a central role in the lives of patients and allergists alike. Symptoms typically associated with the virus can often resemble allergy symptoms, such as cough, fatigue, chills, congestion, and more.
Additionally, the Omicron variant can cause more severe nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drainage, and symptoms of a sinus infection.
The ACAAI guidance noted that with allergies, a fever is rarely observed in affected patients.
If you think it might be infected with the COVID-19 virus, the ACAAI recommends getting tested as soon as possible. However, if you are not struggling with symptoms of the virus, a consultation with an allergist who test for seasonal allergies is recommended.
“People still have COVID-19 on their minds,” says allergist Mark Corbett, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “They might not be thinking about spring allergies, so symptoms could sneak up on them. One of the most important tools for battling spring allergies is to get ahead of symptoms. Begin taking your allergy medications two to three weeks before your itching and sneezing normally start to occur. And be aware that, thanks to climate change, symptoms may appear even earlier than normal.”
Patients who are still hesitant about in-office can also participate in telemedicine visits, as J. Allen Meadows, MD, explained in an interview on allergy care during the pandemic.
“Historically, people who have flares of allergies, we give them the option of being treated on the phone or treated in person, and certainly if somebody had failed a phone treatment, we'd see all those people in person,” Meadows said. “But a lot of allergy and asthma practices want to keep the lobby a safe place for people coming in for well visits, in the case of allergists for people coming in for allergy shots, and so many allergy and asthma offices really aren't seeing sick patients in person.”
Many patients have used pseudoephedrine, a decongestant which shrinks blood vessels in nasal passages, to manage their allergies in the past. However, pseudoephedrine is predominantly recommended to clear up congestion and is associated with several side effects.
These side effects have been linked to its ingredients such as methamphetamine, and include insomnia, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, and irritability. The decongestant should also be avoided if a patient is pregnant, and is only available via special request from a pharmacist.
Though there are commonalities between all types of asthma, the triggers associated with any one allergy can differ dramatically. It’s recommended that affected patients know their triggers and are properly treated against them.
Rebecca Rosenberger, MMSc, PA-C, Allergy Diagnostic & Treatment Center, and Associate Director, Clinical Affairs & Education at Thermo Fischer Scientific, spoke to HCPLive on several occasions regarding seasonal allergies and what patients can do to understand their triggers including blood and allergen component testing.
“Knowing that there is blood testing that's available for all of those allergens that we mentioned molds, dust mites, pets, and certainly many, many of the foods, that's a good first step,” Rosenberger said. “If you suspect that you've had some type of reaction, and it could be allergic trigger, that's a great first step, (and) you have symptoms, go ahead and get tested.”
It’s important to recognize that allergists are available to help patient get tested, treated, and improve upon their allergies. Immunotherapy, which includes allergy shots and tablets, are available through allergists and are designed to target a patient’s allergy triggers and reduce the severity of their symptoms.
If you or someone you know is struggling allergies, you can locate an allergist in your area via the ACAAI allergist locator.