Do you suffer from seasonal allergies such as hay fever?

COVID-19 and hay fever share some similar symptoms, which means it can be difficult to tell the difference between them.

Read these five tips to help manage allergies during the pandemic.

What are seasonal allergies?

Seasonal allergies, sometimes called ‘hay fever’ or seasonal allergic rhinitis, are symptoms that happen during certain times of the year or, for some people, are present all year round. They usually occur when outdoor moulds release their spores, or trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilise other plants.

Seasonal allergies triggered by airborne pollen can lead to:

  • allergic rhinitis, which affects the nose and sinuses
  • allergic conjunctivitis, which affects the eyes.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies (hay fever)?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new form of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are group of viruses that cause respiratory infections.

COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share some symptoms, but there are often some key differences between the two. For example, COVID-19 can cause fever, which is not a common symptom of seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, unless a person has a respiratory condition such as asthma that can be triggered by exposure to pollen.


Get more information on COVID-19 symptoms or seasonal allergy symptoms.

Here are five tips on how to manage seasonal allergies during COVID-19:

  1. Since some of the symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies are similar, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them. If you are unsure about what might be affecting you, contact your GP.
  2. Continue your current allergy treatment regime to minimise your symptoms. You should also consider talking with your GP about having an effective treatment plan for your seasonal allergies and/or asthma before the hay fever season begins.
  3. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms (even if you suspect it’s just your first allergy attack of the season), get tested immediately for COVID-19.
  4. If you normally have seasonal allergies and you experience any new symptoms or a change in your symptoms, you should also get tested for COVID-19 straight away.
  5. If your COVID-19 test result is negative, and you continue to have symptoms or recurrent allergies, talk with your GP about a management plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remember to always cover your sneezes using your elbow or a tissue, throw away used tissues in the bin, and wash or sanitise hands immediately after sneezing.

Current as at: Thursday 10 September 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW