Health Tips: Fall allergies or COVID-19?

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The start of fall brings pumpkin spice lattes, fresh apples and allergies. The most common causes of the sneezing, sniffling, headachy, red-eyed misery are ragweed and other weeds, trees, and mold and mildew from wet, fallen leaves.
However, with the presence of COVID-19, you may find yourself worrying that your symptoms are virus-related instead of allergies. That’s understandable. Many symptoms, such as a sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue and loss of taste and smell can seem similar. But there are important differences.
Coronavirus symptoms are often accompanied by fever -- that’s not an allergy symptom. Gastrointestinal distress and achy muscles are also not signals of seasonal allergies. Itchy eyes, nose, throat and ears? Sneezing? They’re generally signs of an allergic reaction, especially if you get these symptoms annually.
But, if you’re nervous about how you’re feeling:
• Make an appointment with an allergist. A scratch test will identify most allergens, if they’re what’s bothering you.
• If you have allergies, avoid being outdoors during peak pollen hours (mid-morning to early afternoon).
• When you do go out, say thanks to your pandemic mask ... it can reduce pollen exposure while you decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19.
• Use a neti pot -- scrupulously cleaned -- twice a day to clear your sinuses and reduce irritation. You may also use over-the-counter antihistamines and other medications. Ask your doctor what’s best.
• Get a COVID test. If you don’t typically suffer from allergies and you have new symptoms, getting tested is the smart (and socially responsible) thing to do.
Heart disease doesn’t have to bench you
When professional athletes come back from an injury, they may think they’re as good as new, but impatience can backfire. Take LeBron James. He was sidelined with a strained groin on Christmas Day 2018 as the Lakers played Golden State. Although he came back strong a month later, he was reinjured in a Christmas 2019 contest. Then in April of 2020, James sat out another game -- again for a sore groin.
Fortunately, most injuries don’t sideline super-athletes or everyday folks permanently. You can even start or continue exercising if you have heart disease -- it can reduce your risk of premature death. You just want to plan your routine with your doctor so the intensity is safe for your condition. (Are you listening, LeBron?)
To help you get back in the game, the European Society of Cardiology has issued new guidelines on exercise for people with heart disease and heart-threatening obesity and diabetes.
1. Generally, exercise so your heart and breathing rates increase, but you can talk comfortably. Aim for 150 minutes a week. Our tip: Increase intensity by no more than 10% weekly.
2. If you have obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes, add strength-building exercises three times a week to a regular routine of moderate/vigorous aerobics.
3. “The chance of exercise triggering a cardiac arrest or heart attack is extremely low,” says sports cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Sharma, chairman of the guidelines task force. But if exercise causes palpitations, unusual shortness of breath or chest discomfort, take it easy and see your doctor (ASAP). Now, that’s a game-winning strategy!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com. (c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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