Spring Sniffing & Sneezing

04-11-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

Scranton, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of President Joe Biden and the affable Michael Scott, was recently ranked number one on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s “2021 Allergy Capitals: The Most Challenging Places to Live With Allergies''. While it seems everyone here is sniffing and sneezing, it may come as a surprise that Phoenix doesn’t show up until #68 on the list. Allergic conditions are among the most common medical conditions affecting people in the United States with more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies every year (AAFA 2021 Allergy Capitals). Given the date on the calendar, and our recent weather, spring indeed has sprung and with it allergy season.

Spring allergy season begins with pollen released by trees in response to warmer temperatures. When warmer temperatures are accompanied by windy conditions, the perfect combination to trigger allergic reactions is in the air. Seasonal allergies can present with some symptoms similar to COVID-19, but there are also some differences. Most important is that unlike COVID-19, seasonal allergies are not due to a viral infection. The symptoms experienced are due to the body’s immune response to a triggering allergen, like pollen or grass. Also, COVID-19 can cause significant respiratory problems like shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. These are not usually associated with seasonal allergies. (Mayo Clinic Cold/Flu/Allergies - COVID-19 Differences).

Since resuming classes in August, we have asked that students showing signs of illness, based on the “Daily Screening Tool”, stay home. When seasonal allergies flare-up, it may be difficult to determine whether or not a student should attend school. When the assessment criteria for exclusion from school were developed, by school nurses and public health specialists, it was agreed that a student previously diagnosed with seasonal allergies and experiencing symptoms consistent with their allergic reaction---that is the usual symptoms during the usual season--does not have to stay home when there is no other symptom of, and no known exposure to, COVID. If your child suffers with seasonal allergies, talk to his or her primary care provider. There are many effective over the counter treatment options available. It is also worth noting that many of the things being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus can also help to decrease allergy symptoms. For example, wearing a mask can help to keep pollen out of the nose, sinuses and throat. Washing hands after being outdoors can keep pollen from being transferred from the hands to the face. And, the upgrades to the school’s HVAC system last summer have improved filtration of the air in the classroom. It is also recommended, by AAFA, that children with pollen allergies take a shower before going to bed each night. Please continue to check your child each day for symptoms of illness. If you have questions about the fitness of your child for school, simply call the Nurse’s Office at (480) 967-5567 ext 1.

We will continue to practice those things that make us “Smart, Healthy & Holy”, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and all it has to offer. Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!