Dr. Henry's advice to stay home with allergy symptoms could lead to higher workplace absentee rates - InfoNews

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Dr. Henry's advice to stay home with allergy symptoms could lead to higher workplace absentee rates

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April 27, 2020 - 1:00 PM

While B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been telling people for weeks to stay home if they’re sick, she expanded that advice last week to include people with allergies because many of those symptoms are similar to symptoms presented by those infected with COVID-19.

“Even if we think it’s just allergies right now, that’s when you need to stay home,” Henry said during an April 20 Ministry of Health COVID-19 update.

When there are high pollen levels in the air – as there is now – 20 to 25 per cent of the population may be showing symptoms of what is called allergic rhinitis, according to a publication in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“Some of the symptoms commonly seen in seasonal allergies, such as irritation of throat tickle, runny nose, or cough can also be seen in COVID-19 infection,” Kelowna allergist and immunology specialist Dr. Marjan Nassiri said in an email to iNFOnews.ca. “Sometimes it is not easy for a person to tell them apart. People with symptoms can be assessed and get a COVID-19 test in B.C.”

This time of year is sometimes referred to as "hay fever" season because of high levels of pollen in the air. People do have allergic reactions, Nassiri wrote, but they do not have a fever.

They show symptoms as long as they continue to be exposed and not treated. Those can last for a few hours or a few days.

Over-the-counter antihistamines, or in more serious cases prescription medications, can be used to alleviate the symptoms but they do not cure the allergies.

Given that, Nassiri fully supports Henry’s recommendation that people stay at home.

“Even if a person has allergies, the first thing we advise is to minimize exposure, and in the case of seasonal allergies, where the allergy is to pollen we advise the person to stay home particularly on days when the pollen level is very high according to the forecast,” she wrote.

Use this link to check pollen levels in your area.

To find COVID-19 testing information and locations in B.C. go here.


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