How to differentiate between symptoms of COVID-19 and summer allergies

Woman suffering from a fever.
Woman suffering from a fever.
Science Photo Library/ Getty Images

According to Lancet, about 20 million South Africans suffer from allergic respiratory diseases including allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. They go on to say that this is mostly triggered by pollen and dust mite allergens - meaning that hot Spring/Summer months are often the worst times of the year for someone who suffers from hay fever. 

This, coupled with the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infections on the cards, could be a bit of a confusing time mostly because the symptoms of COVID-19 and hay fever can be quite similar. 

Read More| Covid-19: SA to experience a 'less severe' second wave of the pandemic, says top scientist

The good news is that even though they are similar, they can be differentiated. Let's take a look at how. 

The Symptoms

According to Mayo Clinic, these are the main symptoms of hay fever, and just below this list are the main symptoms of COVID-19. 

Hay fever symptoms

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue

 Read More| Newborns at very low risk of contracting COVID-19 from infected moms – new study suggests

Covid-19 symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)

How to tell the difference

Speaking to Bustle, allergy and immunology specialist, Dr Sanjeev Jain, said the most accurate way to determine whether you have hay fever or the coronavirus is to get tested for the virus. However this is not the only way and it is not always necessary to do so.

"Patients with seasonal allergies are unlikely to experience a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle or body aches, or new loss of taste or smell," Dr Sanjeev Jain told the publication.

"If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, especially without eye, ear, or nasal symptoms, allergies are unlikely to be the cause."

Also, it's unlikely that allergies will present with a fever because hay fever doesn't cause a high temperature. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24