Much of the UK has recently been experiencing mild and pleasant weather, with warm sunshine and dry spells. The warm temperatures have contributed towards a sharp increase in the pollen count; parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are forecast as ‘high’ for the rest of the week.

Consequently those with hay fever may already be feeling the unwelcome effects. 

Hay fever can cause frustrating and debilitating symptoms for lots of people in the UK. Symptoms can vary greatly in severity but often include sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, running eyes and nose, a blocked nose and loss of smell. 

How should I manage hay fever symptoms during the coronavirus outbreak?

If you have hay fever, it is always a good idea to be prepared for the onset of your symptoms. If you usually take medication to combat your symptoms make sure you have the items you need.

Pharmacists can advise on the various treatment options available ranging from antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays or drops. Paracetamol can be used to treat headache symptoms. 

Dr Daniel Atkinson, Clinical Lead at Treated.com, has provided his advice for those battling with hay fever symptoms during the coronavirus lockdown period.

As much as possible you should aim to stay inside your home with windows and doors closed. If you have to go outside you should wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes and you can also use a small amount of Vaseline around your nose to prevent pollen from being inhaled. When you return home, have a shower and change your clothes.’ 

Full compliance with the UK government advice to help stop the spread of coronavirus is still vitally important. Therefore whether you have hay fever or not you should be staying at home as much as possible; only venturing out to pick up essential groceries, go to work, attend to medical needs or take one form of exercise.

How to prevent spreading coronavirus if you are sneezing frequently

Sneezing is a very common symptom linked to hay fever and unfortunately it is one that could potentially increase the spread of the coronavirus disease. Sneezes and coughs can spread mucus and saliva droplets that could contain the virus, if you have been infected. 

A recent research paper has suggested that during a single sneeze these droplets could be projected as far as eight metres from the infected person, dependent on physical and environmental factors. 

Following strict hygiene measures can help stop the infection spreading to other people:

  • If you do sneeze or cough you should try to catch it in a tissue and throw the tissue in an enclosed bin immediately. 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible. 
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doors and taps. 

It is also important to follow the government guidelines and avoid unnecessary journeys. The pleasant weather can make it tempting to head out to beauty spots but this should be avoided. It is possible to carry coronavirus without being aware and thereby spread the virus unknowingly. Making unnecessary trips could potentially put further pressure on the NHS and other emergency services. Everyone needs to do their bit and adhere to the government instructions and stay at home. 

Are there similarities between hay fever symptoms and coronavirus?

There can be some similarities between hay fever symptoms and those associated with coronavirus such as a dry cough, headache and fatigue. However, hay fever does not usually cause a fever or shortness of breath. 

If you think you have coronavirus do not attend your GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy. Instead refer to online NHS services. Only call 111 if you are unable to access the online services, you are instructed to call or your symptoms worsen.