What is the Difference between Hay Fever and Coronavirus?

22 May 2020 12:26pm

The pollen count is at its highest when the weather is warm, humid and windy – so health leaders at the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are urging people to understand the differences and similarities between the symptoms of hay fever and COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Dr Julian Povey, Chair of Shropshire CCG and local GP, said:“People are asking how they can tell the difference between hay fever and coronavirus as some of the symptoms appear similar.

"Typical hay fever symptoms include a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, sore and watering eyes – but also sometimes a cough. A continuous dry cough is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19 as well as a high temperature and loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

“If you are concerned that your symptoms are different or more severe than normal, contact NHS 111 online or by phone or contact your local GP practice. In any event, it is still important to bin used tissues, keep washing your hands, and only leave your home for necessary journeys and exercise to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19.”

Dr Jo Leahy, Chair of Telford and Wrekin CCG and local GP, said: “Contrary to rumours, you can carry on taking antihistamines without any worry that this is making you more susceptible to COVID-19 or compromising your immune system.

"It is also important to take antihistamines to reduce sneezing – which could transmit the virus if you were unknowingly carrying it.”

“Pharmacists can provide advice and suggest over the counter treatments for hay fever symptoms, like antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays to help with itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. Antihistamines are often easy to pick up at your supermarket during your weekly shop. If you have hay fever and asthma, please continue to take your asthma medicines as prescribed.”

If your symptoms are significantly different to ‘normal’ or you have specific symptoms of COVID-19 – a new persistent cough, high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – the message is to follow Government advice and self-isolate.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms who needs medical advice should use the dedicated NHS 111 COVID-19 service online.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) useful links