Coronavirus or hay fever? Leicester academics share guidance on symptoms

Warm weather over the Easter weekend and a new burst of birch pollen in the air has set off hay fever symptoms for millions of sufferers across the UK, however in the recent climate, concerns have been raised about whether their symptoms are just seasonal allergies or actually coronavirus.

Academics at the University of Leicester have shared guidance about whether hay fever sufferers have any reason to feel more worried about contracting the virus than anyone else, and whether their symptoms actually be something more serious.

Dr Catherine Pashley, Lecturer at the Department of Respiratory Sciences at the University of Leicester said that whilst many symptoms of hayfever and coronavirus do overlap, without a high temperature and aching limbs, at this time of year it is more likely to be seasonal allergies than COVID-19.

Dr Pashley said:

“Unfortunately some of the symptoms of hayfever and coronavirus do overlap, in particular, the presence of a cough. However with seasonal allergies, you are unlikely to develop a high fever or achiness, which are some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

“If you regularly suffer with hay fever year on year and you have just started sneezing with no temperature, it is likely to be an allergy to birch pollen, of which we have just had a huge burst. This type of hayfever affects around 20 to 25% of the population, compared to grass pollen, which is released later in the year.

“Hayfever is not generally considered to be a risk factor for COVID-19, and a study linking people with hayfever and worse COVID symptoms has not yet been conducted. It is vital for everyone regardless of symptoms to follow Government advice to stay at home and take steps to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19.”