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Don't confuse COVID-19 with hay fever

With the warmer weather and increased pollen levels, it’s important for people to understand the difference between the symptoms of hay fever and COVID-19.

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of smell or taste. People may also feel quite unwell.

While the symptoms of COVID-19 and hay fever can overlap, people with hay fever don’t experience a high temperature and most won’t feel unwell. Hay fever and allergy symptoms tend to be milder, for example, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. Symptoms may vary over the course of the day or depending on the weather, as the pollen count changes. They can also usually be controlled through antihistamines or nasal sprays.

If you have any new cough, fever, lose your sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate as these could be signs of COVID-19. Most people can manage their symptoms at home with paracetamol and plenty of fluids. However, if you feel worse, you should use the NHS 111 checker or call NHS 111. Most importantly, don’t go directly to your GP practice, pharmacy or hospital if you think you have COVID-19. Always go through 111 first.

People with hay fever can still get medical advice and treatment during the pandemic. You can visit your local pharmacy for over the counter remedies. If your symptoms don’t improve, you can also contact your GP practice.

Common COVID-19 symptoms

  • high temperature
  • new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

There’s more information about COVID-19 on the NHS website.

Typical hay fever symptoms

  • sneezing and coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around your temples and forehead
  • headache
  • earache
  • feeling tired

There’s more information about hay fever, including advice on how to manage symptoms, on the NHS website