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Sorting through the sickness: is it allergies, or time to see a doctor?

Is it allergies, or time to see a doctor?
Is it allergies, or time to see a doctor? 02:26

SACRAMENTO — This time of year, sniffles and coughs are common with many people battling the start of allergy season in the City of Trees.

Dr. Dean Blumberg with UC Davis Health says this time of year can be difficult to differentiate between allergies and a virus.

"We're really at a kind of transitional period in terms of illnesses. I mean, winter's over and summer's coming," Dr. Blumberg said. "Sometimes it's very difficult to differentiate infections from allergies."

There are clear red flags that can help indicate it's not allergies and it's time to see a doctor. That includes things like a fever, gastrointestinal problems like nausea and vomiting, or even fatigue and muscle aches, 

"Most systemic symptoms, such as muscle, aches, fever, things like that. Most of that's going to be caused by an infection," Dr. Blumberg said. "So certainly, anybody with a high fever, anybody with difficulty breathing. Those are the kind of things that you want to see a doctor for."

In recent months, the Sacramento region has seen an increase in enteroviruses which includes things like hand, foot, and mouth disease and pneumonia. While this is typical for this time of year, experts say the COVID-19 pandemic caused changes to typical patterns of transmission.

"We had really unusual transmission patterns of many infections where we were seeing winter respiratory viruses return during the summer just because nobody had any immunity to it. It was really odd," Dr. Blumberg said. 

That has further complicated and confused people trying to figure out if they're battling a typical case of allergies or something more serious.

Dr. Blumberg said tracking when allergy symptoms seem to start and peak so you know when to be aware of them starting next spring season.

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