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Consumer Reports: Understanding allergy symptoms amid COVID-19 concerns

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Posted at 9:05 AM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 10:05:47-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Spring officially arrived and for a lot of folks, that means the arrival of allergy season as well.

Yeah, with the trees now starting to bloom, many of us are now coughing and sneezing and sniffling. However, having an allergy attack these days can be a little confusing.

In the middle of the pandemic with the coronavirus still a concern, you start experiencing allergy symptoms and you may wonder is it tree pollen or something more serious like COVID-19? But there are some easy ways to tell the difference.

With COVID-19 still around, any sign of illness - such as a lingering cough - is nothing to sneeze at.

There is some overlap in COVID-19 and allergy symptoms. One big difference is a fever and loss of taste or smell. Those can be signs of COVID-19, so quarantine and get tested right away.

But if your eyes, nose, and throat are itchy and you’re sneezing, it’s more likely allergies.

No one wants to hear they’re allergic to a family member, but as much as you may love your pet, he or she shouldn’t sleep on your bed, or even in your bedroom.

Pets not only shed dander, but they can carry pollen on their fur.

"To destroy things like pet dander, dust mites and pollen, wash your bedding in hot water that’s at least 120-degrees," said Sara Morrow, Consumer Reports home editor.

Your pets aren’t the only ones carrying outside irritants into the house. Move your shower to bedtime, to wash off pollen that’s collected on your hair and skin so you don’t go to sleep with allergens.

Lots of irritants collect on your floors, so vacuum them at least once a week to keep particles under control. Be careful of vacuums that can introduce dust back into the air.

"Allergy sufferers should avoid a vacuum that collects debris in a bin since particles can float back into the air when you empty it. A better choice would be a bagged model with a HEPA filter," Morrow said.

A portable air purifier that can handle a large room can clean dust, smoke, and pollen from the air.

Your allergies might make you feel like staying inside, but mowing your lawn can help you feel better - because short grass is less likely to release pollen than long. Wearing a mask and sunglasses will help protect you from irritants.

You might be think opening your windows to let some fresh air in would be a good idea, but that can bring more pollen into your home. Instead, run your air conditioner.