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Understanding the Difference Between Allergies and Viral Infections

Allergies vs covidSpringtime is laden with seasonal allergies. Patients often experience the usual symptoms of sneezing, sore throat and coughing. Typically, one would look to the usual remedies such as over-the-counter medications and avoidance. However, with the current pandemic, diagnosing allergy symptoms versus the Covid-19 viral infection is vital. Peter P. Kasznica, M.D. is board certified in otolaryngology with specialized training in allergy and has been working with patients on defining and treating allergies for over 10 years at Midwest ENT. He says that during this unprecedented time, there are still ways to keep our allergy patients safe and healthy while improving the quality of life.

First, it is important to distinguish the differences between allergy symptoms and viral symptoms. Dr. Kasznica explains, “In a viral infection such as Covid-19, it is common to have a high fever and rapid loss and/or reduction of smell and taste.” He adds that a person may also experience dry cough and shortness of breath, along with muscle aches and muscle weakness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult your primary care provider as soon as possible to be evaluated.

“Alternatively, with allergy symptoms, it is common to have itchy eyes and throat, along with sneezing and nasal congestion,” Dr, Kasznica states. Since office visits might be difficult at this time for some people, such as those in high risk categories due to age and/or health conditions, Dr. Kasznica offers advice on how to find relief while complying with current restrictions. He recommends taking advantage of a virtual consultation, or telemedicine appointment, with an allergy specialist. The telemedicine visit will help you manage your symptoms and find relief, while minimizing exposure, all from the comfort and safety of your home. Dr. Kasznica continues to advise the use of prescribed antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, and avoidance measures to known allergens.

If your allergy symptoms worsen or do not resolve following initial recommendations, you should consult an otolaryngologist, or ENT physician, for an in-office appointment including testing with a complete examination including both skin allergy testing and blood allergy testing. If this level of care is needed, Dr. Kasznica suggests following the standard COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing, the use of proper protective equipment, such as face covers, and hand washing while at your appointment.

For patients currently receiving treatment for allergies, special measures have been implemented to continue to provide safe care. “When COVID-19 first started to become widespread, our allergy appointments were adjusted based on doctors’ schedules and the government restrictions that were put in place for safe patient care. At Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat, we continue to follow the CDC recommendations to limit the spread of infections by limiting the number of people in our waiting rooms through spaced appointments, regular disinfection practices, and required facial coverings for all patients and staff," adds Dr. Kasznica.

As time has passed, we are now slowly and safely returning to our new normal practices. Even though the country is in a time that is unprecedented, Dr. Kasznica says he is grateful to have such a helpful and amazing team during this time. “Our goal is to help ensure the health of our patients, team and partners.”

By: Jennifer Dumke - Sioux Falls Woman Magazine

Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat
2315 West 57th Street  •  Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108  •  605-336-3503  •  Toll-free 888-336-3503  •  Fax 605-336-6010