Hay fever season is upon us with pollen counts beginning to soar. Typical symptoms include sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy red or water eyes, loss of smell, headaches and an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears. But some of these symptoms have been linked to coronavirus – COVID-19.


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One of the main symptoms of coronavirus is a cough.

Other symptoms linked to the virus include loss of smell, headaches, a sore throat and conjunctivitis.

So how can you be sure which one you have?

According to Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), there are three ways to tell your symptoms are hay fever rather than COVID-19.

On the RCGP website, Professor Marshall explains: “We would normally expect to see a number of patients at this time of year suffering with symptoms of allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever – an allergic reaction to various types of pollen.

“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.”

Professor Marshall then goes on to explain some important characterises of hay fever that could help patients distinguish between it and COVID-19.

The first point is allergy symptoms tens to be milder and fluctuate depending on the time of day as pollen feels are often higher in the afternoon and evening.

Secondly, wet weather may lead to patients experiencing milder symptoms.

Thirdly, patients who regularly suffer from hay fever will be familiar with the symptoms they usually get and the severity of them.

Professor Marshall adds: “In instances were 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.


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

Allergy UK also notes a key symptom of coronavirus which helps differentiate it from hay fever.

It states on its website: “Do not mistake hay fever symptoms for coronavirus.

“The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough. Hay fever does not cause a high temperature and most people with hay fever do not feel unwell.

“Mild to moderate hay fever is easily treated.”

Coronavirus symptoms

The NHS lists the main symptoms of COVID-19 as:

A high temperature – feeling hot to touch on your chest or back

A new, continuous cough – coughing for a lot more than an hour, or three o more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

If you experience these symptoms you should not leave your home – don’t go to places like GP surgeries, pharmacies or hospitals.

To find out what to do, use the 111 online coronavirus service. 

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