How to tell the difference between hay fever and coronavirus


People with hay fever have received advice on how to avoid confusing their allergy with signs of coronavirus.

The Royal College of GPs has stated that some people may fear overlapping symptoms.

Its chairman, Professor Martin Marshall, said: “We normally expect to see a number of patients at this time of year suffering from symptoms of allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever – an allergic reaction to various types pollen.

“Typically, patients with hay fever will experience symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, pain and tearing – but also sometimes a cough.

“Some of these problems, especially a cough, may also be symptoms of Covid-19. “

He said separately to the BBC on Monday: “This is not surprising given the overlap between certain symptoms of hay fever and a mild coronavirus that could cause concern. “

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of coronavirus are high temperature and a new, continuous cough.

People have been told to isolate themselves at home for seven days if they experience such symptoms.

But Professor Marshall said there are important features of hay fever that could help patients distinguish it from Covid-19.

“Allergy symptoms tend to be milder and vary by time of day because pollen levels are often higher in the afternoon and evening,” he said.

“Likewise, wet weather can cause patients milder symptoms.

“Patients who regularly suffer from hay fever know the symptoms they usually experience and their severity.

“In cases where a patient has a significant deviation from this, or has specific symptoms of Covid-19 – a new persistent cough and a high temperature – we urge them to follow the advice of the government and take self-care. isolate.”

Professor Marshall said that if patients experience symptoms that persist or worsen, they should seek medical advice through the NHS 111 service or their general practitioner.

Advice to people with allergies on the Allergy UK charity website states: “Symptoms of coronavirus usually include continuous cough and temperature, headache and muscle pain. These are not symptoms of hay fever.

“The symptoms of hay fever are persistent and relatively predictable depending on the number of pollens.

“The symptoms of runny nose, itching and sneezing that are typical of hay fever are not typical of coronavirus.

“Hay fever should respond to antihistamines and, if prescribed, to nasal sprays.

“We recommend that you treat hay fever proactively to minimize your symptoms, reduce the tendency to touch your face due to itching, and prevent the unintended spread of coronavirus by sneezing.”

Grass pollen is the most common allergen, the season extending from mid-May to July, but tree pollen can also cause hay fever.

According to the Met Office, the pollen season for trees in the UK extends from late March to mid-May and affects around 25% of people.

Forecasters predict a high or moderate risk of tree pollen for most of the UK this week.


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