2022-07-23 07:36:44 By : Mr. JC Chan

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For over two years, the SARs-CoV-2 virus has proved unpredictable and rampant. The Delta variant being the most menacing, people took a sigh of relief when Omicron became more dominant, leading to more simpler, milder and manageable symptoms. However, the continuous mutations and emergence of new subvariants has caused alarm across countries.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron as dominant in the United States and many other countries have expressed concerns about the same. Although the symptoms are said to be milder, the rate of infections has increased considerably, making more people sick.

What's even worse is that Omicron symptoms tend to overlap with symptoms of other respiratory issues including allergies. This, according to experts, can further facilitate the spread of the virus. Let us understand more about it!

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Since the onset of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the kind of symptoms commonly associated with the illness has changed. While with the Delta variant, that is said to have driven the second wave of infection in India, the symptoms were more severe and life-threatening, with Omicron, the ailments are considerably milder.

According to experts, while the Delta affected the lower respiratory tract, the Omicron is said to attack the upper respiratory tract, causing symptoms of sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, muscle pain, fever, etc.

However, these upper respiratory symptoms are also reported in people who suffer from allergies, which are caused by an entirely different property i.e. airborne substances like pollen.

Therefore, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, headache, and tiredness are also symptoms of allergies, which may make it difficult to identify the cause of your illness.

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When it comes to understanding the difference between COVID's Omicron variant and allergies, we must look beyond the common respiratory symptoms they share.

For instance, the incubation period may vary in both these conditions.

In terms of allergies reactions occur within seconds or minutes after exposure to the allergen and can last from days to months, depending on how long you're in contact with the allergy trigger and a short time after.

With Omicron, experts say incubation period is about two to four days, which is generally shorter than the previous variants.

Furthermore, an infection with the Omicron is likely to make you feel a bit under the weather, whereas allergies do not give light to such discomfort.

According to Scott Feldman, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of allergy and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, fever is a tell-tale sign of COVID-19, as reported by Health.

This is because a rise in the body temperature indicates that the body is trying to fight off infections, he explains.

Another symptom that differentiates COVID from all other respiratory illnesses is loss of sense of smell and taste, which is highly unlikely with other conditions. In people with allergies, a partial decrease in smell may arise due to a stuffy nose. However, it is not as intense and long lasting as with COVID.

Additionally, with allergies, one is likely to experience itchy and watery eyes, which is not common with Omicron symptoms.

There are several other factors to note.

For instance, if you have a history of allergies, you're likely to be more prone to allergies and may recognize certain patterns and exposures that may be recurrent.

When it comes to seasonal allergies, some people may experience symptoms at the same time every year and in a similar circumstance.

Furthermore, if you're resorting to allergy medications, you must note that these will only treat symptoms like congestion, runny nose, and coughing, but will not help you get rid of fever, bodyache and loss of smell and taste.

The best and most reliable way to find out what you're suffering from is to get a COVID-19 test. You can choose to get a rapid antigen test, which gives you prompt results or resort to an RT PCR test, which takes time to deliver results, but is more accurate.

The key is to protect yourself from all respiratory illnesses.

In the case of COVID-19, wearing masks, maintaining social distance, washing your hands frequently and getting yourself vaccinated or boosted is of utmost importance.

With allergies, you again need to be very alert. Cover your face when you go out, avoid outdoor activities, take a bath before going to bed, wear a face mask if you go out to limit the entry of pollen in your system. Make sure you also check weather reports for pollen counts.

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