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Your Healthy Family: Are those cold-like symptoms allergies, a cold or COVID?

Posted at 9:52 AM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 11:52:51-04

PINELLAS PARK, FL — Physicians at a local urgent care center said they are seeing an increasing number of patients with seasonal allergies.

"Unfortunately, the last two years have been anything but...we have a lot of people coming in with symptoms where they normally wouldn’t have just because the fear of COVID is still lingering. We still are in the tail end of flu season," said Erica Martin, a physician assistant at AFC Urgent Care in Pinellas Park.

Martin said common symptoms of seasonal allergies include: sore throat, stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, itchy or red eyes, and even shortness of breath if a person has asthma.

"We're definitely seeing a lot of people coming in with symptoms, especially during tourist season. People are coming down and aren't familiar with our pollen," said Martin.

The urgent care center has launched an educational campaign regarding seasonal allergies. The clinic wants patients to learn more about myths when it comes to allergies.

Martin said one myth is local honey can help make allergies more tolerable. She said there is no scientific consensus on whether honey works to limit the effects of seasonal allergies. There may be anecdotal examples, but they’re not medically proven.

"The tea with honey may be soothing on the throat, but it doesn't really do much as far as treating the allergy themselves," she said.

Martin also pointed out that wearing contact lenses may irritate the eyes. Contact lenses can trap pollen against the surface of the eye. This can be an even bigger issue for anyone who is already suffering from red, itchy eyes triggered by seasonal allergies.

Martin also said a woman’s menstrual cycle can make allergies more troublesome.

"That extra glass of wine can make those symptoms worse, women especially around their cycle time should be more vigilant with their allergy medications," she said.

Martin said allergy season runs from January until May in Florida.

"There are things we can try at home like over-the-counter antihistamines. There's plenty out there that are non-drowsy, non-sedating things like saline, nasal sprays and allergy nasal sprays," she added.