Does hay fever give you a cough? How to tell symptoms apart from coronavirus

Do you suffer from hay fever? (Photo: Shutterstock)Do you suffer from hay fever? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Do you suffer from hay fever? (Photo: Shutterstock)

As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, hay fever sufferers are having to cope with more pollen in the air.

But could coughing be a sign of hayfever, and as coronavirus sticks around, how can you tell it apart from allergy symptoms?

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What is hay fever?

Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergies, tends to flare up between late March and September according to the NHS, as this is when it’s warm, humid, windy and when pollen count is at its highest.

Healthline says: “When your body is exposed to allergens, it releases histamines.

“Histamines are meant to protect you from harm, but they can also cause the allergy symptoms that make some seasons uncomfortable.”

Hay fever and its symptoms are not contagious for those around you.

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Is coughing a symptom of hay fever?

Hay fever comes with a lot of different symptoms, one of which is a cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • 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

The NHS says that if you also suffer from asthma, you might also experience:

  • A tight feeling in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing and coughing

How do I tell the difference between hay fever and coronavirus?

With hay fever and coronavirus having overlapping symptoms, like coughing, loss of smell and headaches, some people might get confused about what their symptoms mean.

Most hay fever sufferers are affected from childhood, and will probably be expecting their symptoms every year around the same time.

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If you’ve never had hay fever before, and you suddenly begin experiencing symptoms, it’s understandable that this might cause concern.

Patient Info says: “Around one in five people with hay fever get symptoms for the first time over the age of 20, so there’s no reason to assume an adult’s symptoms can’t be caused by hayfever just because they’ve never had it before.”

Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots, says: “Hay fever doesn’t cause a high temperature and most people don’t feel unwell.”

The NHS explains that the two main symptoms of Covid-19 are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.

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A high temperature means that you feel hot to touch on your chest or back - you do not need to measure your temperature.

A new, continuous cough is also defined as “coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours”.

Boots Pharmacy released an graphic which shows the difference between hay fever symptoms and coronavirus symptoms, and included information like:

  • Runny noses are rare for coronavirus and common for hayfever
  • Sneezing is rare for coronavirus and common for hayfever
  • Itchy and watery eyes are rare for coronavirus and common for hayfever
These are the key differences to look out for (Photo: Boots)These are the key differences to look out for (Photo: Boots)
These are the key differences to look out for (Photo: Boots)

How do I treat hay fever?

There is currently no cure for hayfever, but there are things you can do to help your symptoms according to the NHS, which includes:

  • Stay indoors whenever possible
  • Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • Put vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • Shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash pollen off

A pharmacy can also help with hay fever as they can provide you with things like antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays to help with your symptoms.

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