In the UK, every year thousands of people suffer from uncomfortable symptoms caused by a reaction to environmental allergens. Seasonal allergies, otherwise known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are a common part of many people’s lives, yet recent circumstances have brought about challenges not faced before.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus, it is now difficult to know whether you’re experiencing hay fever or COVID-19, as symptoms could overlap between the two. As a result, we’ve put together all the information you need to know about seasonal allergies vs COVID-19.
Check out our quick infographic guide below, or read more detail behind specific allergies and symptoms.
Allergies Versus COVID Infographic
Common Allergy Types
Pollen is the most common allergen thought to affect 1 in 5 people during their lifetime. This mainly occurs in Spring and Summer as plants release pollen, resulting in people experiencing an adverse immune response. Sometimes these reactions are to specific plants, such as a tree pollen allergy or grass pollen allergy.
Hay fever is the body’s allergic response to environmental outdoor or indoor substances (mainly pollen) that are wrongfully identified as harmful. An allergic reaction to pollen is called hay fever.
How long does hay fever last?
Hay fever begins immediately after being exposed to an allergen, and symptoms will continue for as long as you are exposed.
When does hay fever season end?
Depending on where you live in the UK, allergies to pollen tend to occur from March to September, starting with tree pollen first and ending with weed pollen.
Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mites are tiny, microscopic bugs that exist in our homes in warm environments such as bedding, furniture, and carpeting. Although dust mites are perennial allergens and can impact people all year, symptoms can be worse during winter when there is less ventilation.
Like dust mites, allergy to mould can be experienced all year round, yet with less ventilation around the home in colder months, there may be more issues during this time.
Pet Dander Allergy
An allergy to pet dander is caused by the body reacting negatively to proteins in dead skin cells that are shed by animals. Suffering from a pet allergy is more common in those who also have asthma or hay fever. There are a few reasons why pet allergies may worsen during winter, including staying inside with your pet for longer, lack of ventilation in the house, and pets having thicker fur with winter coats.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis are consistent whether you are reacting to pollen, dust, mould, or pet dander.
Seasonal allergies symptoms include:
- Itchy, runny, or blocked nose
- Itchy watering eyes
- Itchy ears or throat
- Postnasal drip
People suffering from coronavirus have described experiencing symptoms that range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- A fever or chills
- Shortness of breath
- A continuous cough and sore throat
- A loss or change to taste or smell
- Aching body or headache
Is it seasonal allergies or COVID-19?
If you are wondering whether you have hay fever or coronavirus, there are distinctions between the two in terms of symptoms. Seasonal allergies tend to induce symptoms that are related to itchiness, such as an itchy nose, eyes, ears, or throat. On the other hand, COVID-19 symptoms are more cold-like so include a fever, headache and a change in taste or smell.
What do I do if I think I have an allergy?
If you are experiencing symptoms of an allergy and want to know what’s causing them, you can order an allergy test online. We’ll send you a simple blood spot test, then in our laboratory we’ll use your sample to test against 38 common allergens including house dust mites, different grasses and different types of dander.
We hope this guide had been useful in helping you differentiate between seasonal allergies and COVID-19. You can also learn more about different types of allergies by accessing tons of resources here.