The hayfever sufferer in me is ecstatic.
The cyclist in me is unhappy & refuses to believe it.
— Daniel Hugill 💉💉💉💉💉 (@Daniel Hugill 💉💉💉💉💉)
In April last year, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) published official advice to help stop people from confusing their allergies with signs of coronavirus.
Its chairman, Professor Martin Marshall, 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.”
He separately told the BBC: “It’s not surprising given the overlap between some hay fever symptoms and mild coronavirus that people might be concerned.”
The two main coronavirus symptoms are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough, according to the NHS.
But Prof Marshall said there were important characteristics of hayfever that could help patients tell it apart from Covid-19.
“Allergy symptoms tend to be milder and fluctuate depending on the time of day as pollen levels are often higher in the afternoon and evening,” he explained.
“Similarly, wet weather may lead to patients experiencing milder symptoms.
“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.”
Dr Jonathan Leach, joint honorary secretary at RCGP, advised people unsure about their symptoms to take a “precautionary approach”.
He added: “If there is some concern that it could be coronavirus then people should be self-isolating.”
Guidance for allergy sufferers on the website of charity Allergy UK says: “Coronavirus symptoms typically include a continuous cough and a temperature as well as sometimes causing headaches and muscle aches. These are not symptoms of hay fever.
“Hay fever symptoms are persistent and relatively predictable depending on the pollen count.
“Symptoms of runny, itchy nose and sneezing which are typical of hay fever are not typical of coronavirus.
“Hay fever should respond to antihistamines and, if you have been prescribed them, nasal sprays.
“We would recommend that you treat hay fever proactively to minimise your symptoms, reducing the tendency for you to touch your face due to itch, and prevent unintentional spread of coronavirus by sneezing.”
Grass pollen is the most common allergen, with the season lasting from mid-May to July.