Allergy Awareness Week 2020: Coronavirus (COVID-19) for people living with asthma and hay fever

Apr 2020

This week, 20-26th April 2020, is Allergy Awareness Week. Created by charity Allergy UK, allergy awareness week is an annual event which raises awareness for people living with allergies. Every year they focus on a different type of allergy, and this year it is focused on coronavirus (COVID-19) for people living with allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever.

As we all well know, the coronavirus pandemic has been sweeping the nation, and the rest of the world for many months now. The virus, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, is understandably creating a lot of anxiety. Allergy UK has said they have received a high number of calls to its helpline from people with conditions such as asthma and hay fever who are anxious about managing and understanding the symptoms of these conditions, some of which are very similar to those of coronavirus.

allergy UK

As we are coming into spring in the UK, it is the start of the main hay fever season. Those who suffer from hay fever and asthma often find their symptoms are exacerbated at this time of year, due to the high pollen counts. Many people are also worried about getting access to and the use of medications they need to manage their symptoms.

Amena Warner, the charity’s Head of Clinical Services: “Living with an allergy can be challenging at the best of times. At this time of coronavirus people living with allergic conditions feel even more vulnerable and may be anxious about distinguishing their allergy symptoms from those of coronavirus. This is a very worrying time for our community.

“80% of asthma is triggered by allergy, and asthma is acknowledged as an underlying condition in this current crisis. For anyone living with asthma and hay fever these are worrying times and with the NHS under immense pressure and clinics closed, these people are increasingly turning to us for help and reassurance.”

As the pollen counts are starting to rise, we have put together some information about hay fever, how to treat it, and a few simple tips on how you at home can tell whether you’re suffering from hay fever or coronavirus.

What is hay fever?


Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic reaction which occurs as a reaction to pollen from grass, trees, and weeds. It effects both adults and children and usually occurs in early spring through to summer. It is caused when the body makes allergic antibodies to certain substances, such as pollen, known as allergens.

Symptoms of hay fever

hay fever sufferer

There are many different symptoms of hay fever, some people will experience only mild symptoms, whereas others can experience much more extreme reactions. If you suffer from hay fever you may experience some or all of the following common symptoms:

  • Itchy eyes, throat, and nose
  • Sneezing, running and blocked nose
  • Red, watering eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches and blocked sinuses
  • A cough

The symptoms may become more severe when the pollen count is high and can vary throughout the day and dependent on the weather.

How to treat hay fever

Allergy medications

There is no cure for hay fever, but you can take medications to control the symptoms. Antihistamines are the most common type of allergy medication, often used to treat hay fever. You can purchase antihistamines without a prescription, and they tend to be inexpensive. There are also a number of other over the counter products which can help relieve the symptoms of hay fever such as nasal sprays and eye drops, which can help to soothe itchy eyes. Kays Medical has a range of allergy and hay fever medications which you can purchase online and get delivered straight to your home.

How to tell the difference between coronavirus and hay fever


Hay fever is a common allergy, and as we are in the early stages of the pollen season, many people who suffer from hay fever will start to develop symptoms. The symptoms of hay fever (as listed above) are relatively predictable and persistent depending on the pollen count. If you have suffered from hay fever before you will likely recognise the symptoms. Typical symptoms of hay fever such as a runny, itchy nose, and sneezing are not typical symptoms of coronavirus. Hay fever should respond to medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays, coronavirus would not.

Coronavirus symptoms usually include a continuous cough, a temperature and sometimes headaches and muscle aches. None of these are symptoms of hay fever. If you suffer these symptoms alongside hay fever symptoms you may be suffering from coronavirus and should follow NHS and government advice on self-isolation. Try to treat your hay fever proactively to minimise your symptoms, this way you can reduce the chances of touching your face or sneezing, which can unintentionally spread coronavirus.

Do anti-allergy medications effect your immunity?

Most anti-allergy medications will not affect your immunity, but it can depend on the medication. Antihistamines and nasal sprays are generally considered safe so you can continue to use these. However, if you take oral steroids or other immunosuppressive tablets, this could negatively affect immunity so you should seek advice from a healthcare professional, such as your GP. If you suffer from asthma, it is recommended you continue to take your medication.

pollen season

If you suffer from an allergy such as hay fever or asthma and have any worries about your health or medication, or need any help and support during the coronavirus pandemic, you can contact the Allergy UK helpline on 01322 719898 or use their web chat service on their website. Kays Medical also stock a range of hay fever medications and asthma medications on our website, which you can order online and get delivered straight to your home. For more information about how we can help those suffering with allergies, contact us today.

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