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Coronavirus vs hay fever: know the difference

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With summer just around the corner, it might be a worrying time for those who suffer from hay fever. Not only could you be spending the next few months sniffling and sneezing, but some symptoms could also be confused with those of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

But by finding out the difference between the two now, you could save yourself unnecessary worry and stress in the future.

The Royal College of GPs guidance

You can find guidance on The Royal College of GPs website.

Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall, says the key is knowing what’s normal for you – and being vigilant to any changes.

He said: “Typically, patients suffering with hay fever will experience symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, sore and watering eyes - but also sometimes a cough. Some of these presenting problems, especially a cough, can also be symptoms of COVID-19.

"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 have specific symptoms of COVID-19 - a new, persistent cough and a high temperature - we urge them to follow government advice and self- isolate.”

It is also worth considering that the symptoms of hay fever tend to fluctuate depending on the pollen count and the time of the day, as symptoms tend to worsen towards the late afternoon and evening.

If you know you usually have hay fever, you should start using medications such as antihistamines or nasal sprays early to prevent symptoms from getting out of hand. This way, it can be controlled and the temptation to touch your face by rubbing your eyes or blowing your nose will be reduced.

If you still get symptoms - a persistent cough, high temperature or loss of taste and/or smell - after using these preventative steps, there is the possibility it could be coronavirus. To be safe, it’s recommended you and your family should self-isolate according to government guidelines.

Symptom differences

As we are aware of the overlap of Covid-19 and hay fever it's important to know what symptoms to be on the lookout for. Doctors recommend testing for Covid-19 if you have:

  • a fever
  • chills
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • fatigue
  • loss of smell or taste
  • brain fog

Still unsure?

If you’re unsure and want to talk to one of our expertly trained pharmacy team, then call your local branch to discuss your symptoms and possible treatments over the phone. You can also consider using the NHS 111 website’s symptom checker which can help you to decide what is causing your symptoms and what to do next.

We've also put together a handy blog with some more information on hay fever symptoms and treatments.

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