Is it hay fever or Covid?

The pollen season has started slightly later than usual, but at the minute pollen concentrations are particularly high.  Coronavirus that causes Covid is still with us too.  How easily can you tell the difference?

Didier Ebo, an allergy expert an Antwerp University, says that at present pollen concentrations in the air are ‘exceptionally high’. 

“The alder and the hazel are flowering later than usual due to the recent cold snap and this is resulting in many high pollen concentrations.  We have counted over 4,000 grains of pollen per cubic metre.”

With so much pollen in the air, many patients are suffering asthma-like symptoms in addition to the usual runny or blocked nose.  Add this to the mix and hay fever sufferers may be worried they have caught coronai

Peter Hellings of University Hospital Leuven is a nose, throat and ear specialist and has some suggestions: “A runny or blocked nose, itchy nose and eyes, red eyes and bouts of sneezing, these are the main symptoms of hay fever.”

“Symptoms of a coronavirus infection mirror these symptoms in part, but people with the virus often notice loss of smell and taste too.  They have a temperature and feel unwell.”

“People with hay fever usually complain less about feeling unwell.  Usually their symptoms will mirror those of pervious years and people generally know what causes them.  Hay fever usually affects the upper respiratory tracts, coronavirus the lower respiratory tracts.”

Around a quarter of the population suffers respiratory allergies.  “It nearly reaches epidemic proportions” says Prof Hellings “but not everybody has serious complains.  A group of people are allergic to dust mites and other allergens.  Around 10 to 15% of the population suffers a real pollen allergy.  It may be an allergy to tree pollen or grass pollen or both!”

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