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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Do I have a pollen allergy or Covid-19?

07 July 2022 - 07:00
A runny or stuffy nose, itchy ears and sneezing are some of the symptoms of hay fever.
A runny or stuffy nose, itchy ears and sneezing are some of the symptoms of hay fever.
Image: iStock

Seasonal allergies and Covid-19 have some similar symptoms that can make it tough to figure out what you are suffering from.  

Prof Jonny Peter, head of the UCT Lung Institute’s Allergy and Immunology Unit told The Sunday Times that both bring a runny nose or congestion, sore throat and fatigue. He said there are key differences that can help you determine if it is allergies or Covid-19.

“In Covid-19, fevers, body aches and headache are common, but these are rarely associated with seasonal allergies. In contrast, an itchy nose or eyes and sneezing signal allergy symptoms and are not common in coronavirus infections.”

He said high pollen counts can trigger a difficulty breathing that some may confuse for Covid-19.

“Fortunately, the coronavirus does not commonly trigger worsening asthma. If your symptoms do worsen, it’s advisable to consult your doctor, especially if you have a known sensitivity to pollen.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said there is no reason for people who suffer from a known pollen allergy to self-isolate if they develop typical hay fever symptoms but suspect Covid-19.

“If symptoms worsen they should seek medical advice. Self-tests for Covid-19 are useful to tell if symptoms are caused by a SARS-CoV-2 infection or not. Otherwise, if available, a PCR test can be used for this purpose.”


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