Managing allergies during the COVID-19 pandemic

In this unprecedented global crisis, health should be a top priority. With the onset of the monsoons and the rise in indoor
Managing allergies during the COVID-19 pandemic

NEW DELHI: In this unprecedented global crisis, health should be a top priority. With the onset of the monsoons and the rise in indoor pollution, allergies are on the rise? - along with COVID-19 itself - and have a direct impact on body's respiratory system.

The common cold and flu is also rampant to add to the misery. It is necessary to understand seasonal allergies, its symptoms in order to distinguish them from the symptoms of the common cold, flu, and COVID-19. Even though there could be few similarities, there are distinguishing features that separates them. It is imperative to understand this in order to manage it and avail treatment options.

If you have bouts of sneezing, a runny and stuffed nose with watery and itchy eyes, then you are suffering from an allergy, Dr Sanjay Sachdeva Director, ENT for Head and Neck Surgery at Max Healthcare Limited, New Delhi said.

"Fever, shortness of breath and cough defines the symptoms of COVID-19. In both cases, sore throat, fatigue and headaches are prevalent but look for the differentiating symptoms to understand your ailment. Allergies can last up to months while a common cold or flu usually lasts for 7-14 days. Cough is a symptom of Allergy only if it is associated with Bronchial Asthma.

"Fever, body aches and pains are not signs of seasonal allergies. The key to managing allergies are prompt treatment. Even though you are not venturing out, online consultation and tele-medicine options are available. When the symptom appears, you must consult a doctor, prolonged delays can aggravate the situation leading to asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases," the expert said over email.

Allergy Rhinitis is an inflammation of the nose as a result of one's immune system overreacting to allergen. Being confined at home, indoor pollution due to prolonged exposure is impacting our system especially if the environment is air conditioned. Rugs, duvets, curtains, carpets contribute and so does dampness and moisture - more so in the monsoon. Excessive growth of molds on moist surfaces is also a common allergy trigger.

It is crucial to know your allergies and avoid these triggers, along with seeking medical intervention. Allergies can be managed and treated with right approach and educated early response.

Allergies in children

In children, allergies have a severe impact as they are more prone to and are highly susceptible due to a developing immune system. While allergic rhinitis shares symptoms with common cold, such as frequent or continuous sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and nasal congestion, it is important to consult your pediatrician to understand the differences. Allergies can impair cognition and psycho-motor development as well.

Identifying allergies and responding quickly to the symptoms will help improve your child's quality of life, reduce the number of missed school days and increase their activity levels. Take control of the situation and consult an allergist immediately when you observe such symptoms, says Dr Krishan Chugh, Director and HOD, Paediatrics and PICU at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, New Delhi.

We must remember that if not controlled at an early stage itself, stronger medicines may be required and those may not be safe to take during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The immune system of children is in the developmental stage, lungs are still developing, and their bodies are less able to metabolize and detoxify toxicants present in air pollution. Children inhale more air per unit of body weight than adults, hence the exposure to allergens is more in proportion to adults.

Exposure to air pollution can harm normal growth of lung function in the womb, during childhood and right up to the late teens. Recurrent allergic responses and exposure tend to have long-term physical, cognitive and psychological impact on children.

According to a new WHO report 'Air pollution and child health: prescribing clean air', every day around a staggering 93 percent of the world's children below 15 breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk.

Precautions to better manage allergies

Few precautions that need to be taken are keep indoors clean and dust free, identify causes of allergy, especially during seasonal changes, use clean cooking sources with exhaust systems and ensure children wear masks while outdoors. New-generation medicines and lifestyle management is a must to treat allergies and keep them in control. The right approach with lifestyle modifications and treatment is the key to manage your allergies especially during the pandemic. (IANS)

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