Covid or hay fever – what are the differences?

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The pollen count is high and Covid-19 is rising again. It can be difficult to know if symptoms are due to hay fever or the virus. Here are some tips on how to spot the difference.

Hay fever symptoms

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, red and watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Loss of smell
  • Pain around the temples
  • Headache
  • Tiredness / fatigue

Similarities with Covid-19 and hay fever include:

  • Stuffy nose and loss of smell
  • Sore threat
  • Tiredness / fatigue

Key differences between Covid-19 and hay fever include:

  • Cough – The cough triggered by hay fever tends to be tickly. With Covid-19 a cough can be dry and persistent. You can feel tight-chested.
  • Breathlessness – Can be a feature of both. However with Covid it is often with symptoms such as persistent coughing, headache and fatigue.
  • Sore throat – With hay fever it tends to itchy or scratchy. With Covid-19 it tends to be more painful.
  • High temperature – Covid-19 may bring a temperature of 37.8 C or more, but not always. High temperature is not a symptom of hay fever.
  • Taste – Pollen allergy can trigger a loss of smell but it is does not involve a loss of taste like Covid can.
  • Itchy eyes – Hay fever causes watery and itchy eyes. There can be confusion with Covid-19 which can also lead to conjunctivitis or pink eye.

What to do if you are affected

  • Self -isolation – People who have hay fever do not need to self isolate. But if unsure about Covid-19 you must isolate until 48 hours after the symptoms have gone.
  • Take a test – A home antigen test may tell you if you have Covid-19. But it is not entirely reliable.



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