Millions of Brits with hay fever face summer INSIDE with symptoms mistaken for Covid
MILLIONS of Brits could face a summer inside this year as hay fever symptoms are mistaken for Covid-19.
Around six million hay fever sufferers are worried their constant sneezing and coughing will make people think that they have the virus, research found.
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Data from Well Pharmacy shows this could lead to unsure Brits self isolating and staying indoors when they aren't infected.
Ben Parker, Pharmacist from Well Pharmacy said: “With lockdown restrictions starting to lift this spring, more people will be gathering in groups outside.
"Symptoms can be severe, including headaches, blocked sinuses, shortness of breath, watering red itchy eyes, and even difficulty hearing, which can have a real impact on quality of life.”
The main symptoms of Covid include a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell and a high temperature.
If you have any of these symptoms then you should get a test and isolate.
Around a third of people who have Covid don’t have any symptoms – that’s why rapid tests are available so you can stay safe whilst following the current guidelines.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
A cough is common in both people who have Covid and people who have hay fever.
If you have Covid the cough is a new persistent cough – if you have hay fever it's likely that your cough is tickly, dry, and mainly occurs when you are outside and exposed to allergens.
GP Dr Gordon Sinclair said it's important people understand the difference between symptoms.
He said: "We don’t want people to get unduly anxious about their hay fever. However, we also want to make sure that they don’t go out and about, assuming they have their usual allergies, when they may actually have coronavirus and should stay at home.
"While the symptoms of coronavirus and hay fever can overlap, people with hay fever don’t experience a high temperature and most won’t feel unwell.
“Hay fever and allergy symptoms tend to be milder, for example, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing.
"Symptoms may vary over the course of the day or depending on the weather, as the pollen count changes.
"They can also usually be controlled through antihistamines or nasal sprays."
The study surveyed over 2,000 hay fever sufferers, finding the most common symptoms were itchy, watery eyes (60 per cent), sneezing (56 per cent) and a runny nose (54 per cent).
Symptoms also seem to be lasting even longer according to the survey results, with a quarter (26 per cent) of hay fever sufferers struggling for over six months of the year.
It also found that people with hayfever feel employers don’t take their condition seriously.
More than a third who had to take time off work with hay fever didn't give the real reason for their absence, as they didn't think it would be accepted.
Dr Ali Hasan from VitalityHealth passed on some top tips to stop hay fever ruining your summer and having an impact on your work schedule.
He explained that avoiding exposure to allergens that trigger hay fever can help manage symptoms.
YOUR ALLERGY QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Ben Parker, Pharmacist from Well Pharmacy has compiled some top tips for hay fever sufferers from frequently asked questions in his pharmacy.
- Focus specifically on the areas which need treatment. A lot of people aren't aware that you can use combination therapies – so eye drops, nasal spray and oral antihistamines all together
- Antihistamine tablets interact with some prescription medications. So, make sure you speak with your local pharmacist for advice before taking them if you are on a prescription.
- Be wary that some antihistamine tablets can cause drowsiness. But there are non-drowsy one-a-day alternatives available too
- For under 18’s – change and wash clothes when you come back indoors after playing outside, this will reduce the amount of pollen spreading around the house. Antihistamines are available in the form of drops, tablets or liquid and some are safe for children
- Make sure you stay hydrated. Hot weather combined with fluid lost through tears and nasal secretions aren’t a good combination!
- Consider drug free alternatives. Beeswax ointments and Vaseline in and around the nostril to help form a barrier that stops pollen getting in
- Check the pollen count before you leave the house. So you can protect yourself accordingly with the right combination of therapies.
"There are extra steps people can take to prevent exposure when the pollen count is high, including shutting windows and doors, avoiding fresh flowers, and keeping clothes and pets clean from pollen.
"People with asthma should take extra care during the summer months; pollen can potentially trigger or worsen asthma", he said.
Dr Ali Highlighted that while there is no cure for hay fever, many people successfully use over-the-counter medication such as nasal sprays, antihistamine tablets and eye drops.
He added: "These can be useful for alleviating symptoms. You can ask a pharmacist for advice if you're unsure which option is best.
"You should also always read the instructions that come with your medicine and take advice from your pharmacist or doctor as needed, particularly if you are taking other medications or have conditions which may interact.”
Pollen consultant, Dr Beverley Adams-Groom, said it's important to know what pollen season will have the worst impact, but added its generally grass pollen season which is the one to watch out for.
Dr Beverley explained grass pollen affects 95 per cent of hay fever sufferers.
She said: "Currently, we can’t determine the severity but indications suggest an average onset and total pollen catch, with pollen triggering symptoms from mid-May in the south and central regions.
"The plane pollen season (mainly affecting London – one of the most common trees in the capital) is likely to start in mid-April and will probably also be quite severe.
"There are some other pollen allergen seasons, which affect fewer people, including Hazel, Oak, Ash, Elm, Lime, Plantain, Nettle and Pellitory-of-the-Wall”.
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