Spring Has (Still) Sprung

Spring Has (Still) Sprung

Over 50 million Americans live with seasonal allergies. Most of them are prepared for the coughing, sneezing, nose blowing days when everything starts blooming in the spring. Something new to prepare for this season? How other people react when you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.

Concern about catching the COVID-19 virus has made everyone more aware of the people around them.  This includes being aware of people nearby who are showing signs of sickness. While being around people who are coughing and sneezing used to be an annoyance, now it’s reason for concern. Are they contagious? Do they have COVID-19?

If you have allergies, expect less concern for how you feel and more concern that you keep your distance.

Try not to take it personally. Here are some things to do:

  • Accept that the behavior is warranted. People have real fears about catching a serious virus, so they are hyperaware of anyone showing signs of sickness.
  • Be open to changing your behavior. Stay home. If your work requires you to be in the office, talk to your manager about how your allergy symptoms may be causing stress for your coworkers. It may be a good reason to have you work from home.
  • Wash your hands, throw away tissues, cough into your sleeve, disinfect. Even if it is just allergies, keeping yourself and your surroundings germ free will make you and others feel better.
  • You no longer can say “Oh, it’s just allergies” and expect others to be OK with your symptoms. Offer to wear a mask in close quarters. Try not to touch a lot of shared surfaces. Stand 6 to 10 feet from others.

And here’s something vital to remember: Even if you “just” have allergies, you can still get COVID-19. That means the safety measures recommended for everyone apply to you, too.

Stay alert to changes in your symptoms that seem different than what you get with allergies. A cough alone may not be cause for concern, but if you get a fever or have trouble breathing, don’t wait to call your doctor.

Originally published 4/2/2020; Reviewed 2022