With the hay fever season well under way, symptoms are now affecting those of us who suffer from it. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s important to bear in mind that if you have a cough or itchy throat, it could be down to pollen and not coronavirus.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen from plants and trees. When pollen comes into contact with the mucus membranes of the mouth, nose, eyes and throat, it causes irritation. The pollen count is at its highest between March and September. However, this is dependent on where you live in the UK. In the north for example, the season starts later and is shorter than the rest of the UK. Urban and coastal areas have a lower pollen count than the countryside and inland.

As you can see from the table below, there is some overlap between the symptoms of hay fever and COVID-19. This explains why occasionally it might be difficult distinguishing between the two. Typically, hay fever is characterised by a runny nose and sneezing; whereas the main symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever and persistent cough.


SYMPTOMS for hay fever and COVID-19

CoughCommon – dry, persistentSometimes – dry, intermittent
Shortness of breathCommonNo
Sore ThroatSometimesItchy throat
Loss of smell and tasteSometimesCommon
Runny/stuffy nose RareCommon
Aches and painsSometimesNo


If you have hay fever, your pharmacist will be able to give advice and suggest treatment. Most people benefit from antihistamines and/or a steroid nasal spray which can be bought over the counter.

We’ve found a useful app that provides a daily pollen map and a personal hay fever tracker – My Pollen Forecast UK. The Met Office website also has a daily pollen forecast map that monitors weather data and pollen forecasts for 5 days ahead in the UK: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/pollen-forecast#?date=2020-04-27

Allergy UK has help and support for those suffering with hay fever – https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/conditions-and-symptoms/11-hay-fever-allergic-rhinitis

If your symptoms persist despite standard treatment, you may need to see a specialist ENT consultant.

In view of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, The ENT Clinic is providing video consultations to ensure that patients can still be seen and advice can be given safely under the current government guidelines.

Call 07925 160 934 for more information or send us a message via the contact us page of the website.

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Coronavirus update:

Mr Kirkland offers both video and face to face consultations for his patients. If you are elderly, vulnerable or shielding, a video consultation in the first instance can be beneficial. Quite often, we are able to instigate treatment or investigations following video consultation. If you are happy to be seen in a face to face consultation, we follow strict hospital guidelines regarding COVID-19 to prioritise patient and staff safety.