Spring allergies in the time of a respiratory pandemic

It’s spring in the Ohio River Valley, and seasonal allergies are upon us along with the usual symptoms of coughing and sneezing. What is not usual is that at the same time, the world as we know it is under siege from a deadly respiratory viral disease – COVID-19. UofL Physicians – ENT physician, Kevin Potts, M.D. said that he and other health providers want to encourage patients not to be anxious and have undue concerns that typical allergy symptoms indicate a more serious illness.

“We need to remind people that not every cough or sneeze is related to the coronavirus,” said Dr. Potts. “For most healthy adults, these symptoms are just typical of those patients with allergies experience here in Louisville and this region this time of year.

Unfortunately, the Ohio River Valley has the distinction of being home to two cities repeatedly ranked among the most challenging places in the country to live with seasonal allergies. Both Dayton, Ohio and Louisville rank in the top ten of the nation’s “allergy capitals,” according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2019 report.

So how do patients know if they have allergies or something more serious?

“COVID-19, the deadly respiratory viral disease, usually causes fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, sore throat and cough, but rarely nasal symptoms,” said Dr. Potts. “Patients with those type of symptoms definitely need to call their physician to determine whether to be screened for the coronavirus.”

Allergy symptoms, according to Dr. Potts, include:

  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Sneezing
  • Clear nasal drainage
  • Dry cough
  • Post-nasal drainage

He also said that those with allergies typically don’t have a fever.

If someone does have severe allergy symptoms, Dr. Potts suggests that patients reach out to their allergy specialist or primary care physician with questions before self-treating with over-the-counter remedies such as nasal steroids, oral antihistamines or sinus rinses.

“With the coronavirus pandemic taking place today, we definitely want to advise our patients to be mindful and proactive of their health,” said Dr. Potts. “It’s better to confirm that you have nothing to worry about than to find out too late that you did.”

UofL Health – Telehealth 

UofL Health has expanded its telehealth program, UofL Health – Telehealth, to improve patient access to more than 600 of our providers, while maintaining social distancing, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A UofL Health – Telehealth appointment will allow patients to see a provider over the phone, tablet or computer using a HIPPA-compliant application similar to Skype, FaceTime or Facebook Messaging.

To request a telehealth appointment:

  1. Call our primary care hotline at 502-588-4343.
  2. Calling your UofL Health – UofL Physicians provider’s office directly.