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How to differentiate between coronavirus, hay fever and the common cold

It’s a precarious time right now and the fact that we’re in a global pandemic can make us paranoid about all the little things we notice in our bodies.

If we sneeze twice or cough a few times, it’s easy to think it may be related to the novel coronavirus, which may start with a fever.

But now that spring is here, so too is hay fever which, annoyingly, has similar symptoms of the virus.

There is a way to differentiate between Covid-19, allergies and the common cold though.

Health professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shared guidance on the common Covid-19 signs of infection and how it differentiates from seasonal allergies and the flu.

With hay fever, you might sneeze a lot or have a blocked nose.

But what separates this from Covid-19 symptoms is a fever (temperatures above 38 degrees) and a persistent cough.

Covid-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection, which means that most of the symptoms are felt in the chest and lungs.

This is different from the common cold that brings on an upper respiratory tract infection, where you get a runny nose and sinus congestion.

Those symptoms seem to be mostly absent for people with coronavirus, though they can still be present in some cases.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, typically when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes, and throat. Pollen is a fine powder from plants.

Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.

But as we’re all self-isolating at home, you may notice a decrease of symptoms which include sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose itchy, red or watery eyes, headaches and fatigue.

If your symptoms are beyond the common cold and hay fever commonalities, then timing is key.

Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care within 14 days.

If you have severe symptoms which include trouble catching their breath, rapid breathing (taking more than 30 breaths in a minute), and low oxygen in the blood, then call emergency services.

If you are seeking help then warn the doctors and paramedics that there is a risk of infection.

If you’ve already recovered from Covid-19, you may still be contagious

If you have no underlining health conditions but did report some of the symptoms of Covid-19, you may have already recovered from the virus.

Without having been tested, it’s impossible to know whether you’re still contagious or not.

So only leave your room and home once there is no fever for at least 72 hours (three days), other symptoms have improved and it has been seven days since you started feeling sick.

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