This is how to tell the difference between hay fever and coronavirus symptoms

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 2:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 9:28 am

There is growing concern among doctors and over the shared symptoms between hay fever and a coronavirus infection.

So how can you tell apart the seasonal allergy from the more dangerous Covid-19?

What are the shared symptoms?

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While there are several differing symptoms between the two - for example, itchy watery eyes are common symptom of hay fever but not coronavirus - both seasonal allergies and Covid-19 can cause a cough and a dry sore throat.

Allergy UK has said that “in some people, hay fever can trigger allergic asthma, causing a tight chest and difficulty breathing.”

Difficulty breathing is also one of the main symptoms of coronavirus.

The dangers of mistaking the two

People who are unsure whether their symptoms are those of hay fever or coronavirus have been told not to go to their GP or to the hospital, due to fears that this could spread the virus further to those who merely have allergies.

Doctors across the country are advising patients who are unsure if they are infected or merely suffering from the seasonal illness to phone their doctor or use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service for clarification.

Additionally, if people with pollen allergies actually do contract the virus, but mistake their symptoms for hay fever, this could also add to the spread of the virus if the person in question continues to leave the house.

Additionally, hay fever causes the sufferer to sneeze more frequently.

If someone is a carrier of the virus yet does not show any known symptoms, this increased sneezing brought about by their hay fever can aid the spread of the virus to those in their vicinity.

How can I tell the difference between the two?

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has advised: "There are some important characteristics of hay fever that could help patients distinguish between it and Covid-19.

“Allergy symptoms tend to be milder and fluctuate depending on the time of day as pollen levels are often higher in the afternoon and evening. Similarly, wet weather may lead to patients experiencing milder symptoms.

"Patients who regularly suffer from hay fever will be familiar with the symptoms they usually get and the severity of them. In instances where a patient experiences 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 government advice and self- isolate.

"If symptoms persist or worsen, patients should seek medical advice from the NHS 111 service, or their GP."

How else can hay fever contribute to the spread coronavirus?

While an allergy to pollen doesn't help to spread the virus itself, the symptoms of hay fever, which affect the sinuses and cause irritation to the nose and eyes, can cause the sufferer to frequently touch their face.

It is frequent touching of the face that does aid the spread of coronavirus.

Frequent face touching goes against the government and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice on preventing the spread of coronavirus.

On their website, WHO advise the public to “avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth”

“Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.”

Allergy UK said it advised those suffering from hay fever to treat it proactively to minimise symptoms before they occur - therefore reducing the urge to touch the face or sneeze, minimising spread of the virus.