Hay Fever or the Covid Delta Variant? New Research Shows Striking Similarities

New research has shown that the Delta strain of Covid-19 has very similar symptoms to hay fever. With the Delta variant spreading rapidly and being responsible for the vast majority of new cases in the U.K, it’s essential that you wise up on how to tell it apart from traditional Covid and hay fever.

Traditional Covid – what we know about symptoms

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 18 months, you will be aware that a new and continuous cough and loss of taste and smell are two of the most prevalent signs of Covid. Frustratingly, these symptoms aren’t nearly as common with the Delta variant – in fact, a cough is the 5th most common symptom.

So what are the symptoms of the Delta variant?

According to Professor Tim Spector, an expert in epidemiology at King’s College London, the Delta variant’s top symptom is a headache, followed by a sore throat, runny nose and a fever, making it tough to differentiate it from a cold or hay fever.

A study of 5 million people found that the Delta variant’s main symptoms were:

  • A sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • A headache

Young people were found most likely to get symptoms that cause them to feel ‘off’ or as if they have a bad cold.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

Symptoms of hay fever range from an itchy throat and eyes, to a mild headache around the temples, loss of smell, and a runny nose. We recommend checking the pollen count to identify how likely it is that you’re affected by hay fever. You can do this here.

How to know the difference between the Delta variant and hay fever

If you’ve taken an antihistamine but are still experiencing symptoms that feel like hay fever, this is cause for concern. Whilst hay fever tends to come and go, Covid symptoms will persist and worsen, before peaking.

If you’re feeling lethargic and have a sore throat that can be likened to tonsillitis, it’s likely you are suffering from Covid. The Delta variant is also said to cause a headache behind the eyes, which is rare in the case of hay fever.

What should I do if I think I have Covid?

If you suspect you have Covid, you should do a home lateral flow test right away. If you are feeling unwell and have symptoms, a home test is the most sensible option, as a PCR test involves leaving your home and potentially infecting others.

I’ve been vaccinated – can I still catch the Delta variant and pass it on?

Partly and fully vaccinated people are still at risk of catching the Delta variant. Whilst the vaccine brings this risk down significantly, it’s still possible, and as the transmission is faster, it’s vital that you self-isolate for 10 days if you’ve got symptoms.

Read more about Covid on our blog, including articles on the type of cough to expect with Covid, how to maintain good mental health as things get back to normal, and how to disinfect your home.


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  • Jeremy says:

    I recently had to get a free pcr test as I heard of the similarities between the delta variant and hayfever. Luckily I was all good. Great to raise awareness on this topic 🙂