Allergy experts questioning nasal sprays due to coronavirus concerns

Dr. Paul Walker: ‘There are some questions about spraying your nose right now, that you could actually mobilize a virus’

Some doctors are questioning whether nasal sprays and nasal rinses are the best treatment for season allergy sufferers right now due to coronavirus concerns.

Lately, the pollen count has been high throughout Northeast Florida, and those who suffer from allergies are likely feeling the effects.

Thursday's pollen forecast
Thursday's pollen forecast

“Right now, we’re in high counts for tree pollen, and so being outside, you’re going to get some sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and some nasal congestion," said Dr. Paul Walker, ENT.

But while many people have been dealing with allergies, the new coronavirus has been declared a pandemic. Walker said there’s new information about a specific COVID-19 symptom other than coughing that mirrors an allergy symptom found in 30% of COVID-19 patients.

“We’re finding that reports out of France and Italy, that one of the common first symptoms for patients is loss of sense of smell and taste,” Walker said.

Walker said allergy doctors would normally associate that symptom with allergies or sinus inflammation. So, he said, if a patient had a fever along with the loss of smell and taste, the condition would be more likely to be a virus.

RELATED | How to tell the difference between symptoms of allergies & COVID-19

And while doctors often prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines to control nasal allergy symptoms, Walker said that they are now more hesitant about prescribing nasal sprays and saline rinses based on new medical reports out of France and Italy.

“There are some questions about spraying your nose right now, that you could actually mobilize a virus, so we’re not recommending nose sprays right now and saline rinses in the short-run," Walker said. "There are some theoretical issues for patients with viruses, so my advice to be, in the short-run, I would deal with a little bit of allergies until we figure this thing out more. This is all evolving information that’s been available to us within the last 48 to 72 hours.”

So, for the time being, Walker suggests oral antihistamines to control allergy symptoms until enough research has been done to determine whether sprays and rinses cause more harm than good during the coronavirus pandemic.

One way to differentiate allergies from COVID-19: According to doctors, if you’re suffering nasal congestion outside but you feel better when you go indoors, you’re more likely suffering from allergies triggered by pollen exposure.

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