The transition into spring might bring warmer temperatures, but it also comes with higher pollen levels across the UK. We all know what this means: it's time for the dreaded hay fever symptoms, which can be especially annoying whether you're a contact lens wearer or not. With anxieties still running high on the health front at the moment, some of us might find it hard to tell if our symptoms come from hay fever, or are linked to the coronavirus. The Royal College of GPs confirms there might be an overlap in symptoms, so they've offered advice on how to distinguish between the two and avoid any confusions.
Hay fever symptoms typically include sneezing, a blocked/runny nose, itchy/dry eyes and throat, and discomfort around the sinuses. On the other hand, as COVID-19 is a coronavirus strain, its main warning signs are a high temperature, headache, a new, persistent cough and loss of taste/smell. The two do share some common symptoms, such as fatigue, headache or cough, though they are experienced at varying degrees.
For example, cough caused by hay fever comes as a result of tickling in the throat rather than respiratory problems, so it's a lot milder and less persistent. But some symptoms could cause confusion too: hay fever sufferers might lose their sense of smell due to a blocked nose, or they might feel a strong headache come on as a result of blocked sinuses.
The very predictability of hay fever that would make us roll our eyes about each year gives us the main tool for telling the two apart. Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs points out that "patients who regularly suffer from hay fever will be familiar with the symptoms they usually get and the severity of them". He continues: "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".
Another key difference between the two kinds of characteristics is fever. Despite what the name suggests, people suffering from hay fever don't actually experience a high temperature or muscle aches - a typical symptom of the coronavirus. Instead, they experience a lot of itchiness in their eyes, ears, throat and nose - a symptom at odds with what we know of COVID-19.
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