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Allergies and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • If you are concerned your child has COVID-19 please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit  https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus  for more information. 

    The symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and seasonal allergies like hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) are similar and it can be difficult to tell if your child has one or the other, or both.  Despite its name, hay fever doesn’t actually cause fever and while some symptoms are similar to COVID-19, there are also differences.

    Signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies (hay fever) and COVID-19 (coronavirus)

    The below diagram explains the common symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies, and the symptoms both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share. 

    covid-19-symptoms

    Figure 1: Common symptoms associated with Allergy and Coronavirus. ( CDC, 2020, reference 1).

    When to see a doctor

    If your child has new symptoms that you think might not be hay fever and match the case definition of COVID-19, they should have a COVID-19 test. If your child gets new symptoms at any time, even if they had a negative test initially, your child should have another test. You can find a list of local testing sites on your state government COVID-19 website.

    Seasonal allergies

    What causes seasonal hay fever?

    Seasonal hay fever is caused by the nose and/or eyes coming into contact with allergens in the environment, such as pollens (grasses, weeds or trees).

    Symptoms include a runny, itchy or blocked nose, sneezing and itchy or watery eyes. While some of these symptoms may be similar to those caused by a viral infection (such as colds, COVID-19 and flu), allergy symptoms tend to continue unless treated with medication.

    It is important to prevent and treat seasonal allergies to:

    • Reduce sneezing and coughing which can spread respiratory infections such as COVID-19
    • Avoid allergy symptoms which are similar to those caused by respiratory infections
    • Decrease your child’s risk of being unwell with Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma

    For information on prevention and treatment of seasonal allergies, please see our Kids Health Info fact sheet on hay fever.

    Decrease your child’s risk of COVID-19

    • Maintain good hand hygiene. Please see our Kids Health Info fact sheet on hand washing
    • Physically distance from people outside of your own household
    • Wear a face mask if your child is old enough to do so safely when outside
    • Avoid your child touching their face as much as possible, especially rubbing their eyes and nose while suffering from allergic symptoms

    Key points to remember

    • Seasonal allergies and COVID-19 have a number of the same symptoms, so it is difficult to tell if your child has one, the other or both
    • If your child has new symptoms, they should have a COVD-19 test
    • See your family doctor to get an updated hay fever or asthma plan

    For more information

    COVID-19 and viral illnesses

    Hay fever and allergies

    Asthma

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    My child has hay fever every year. Do they need to have a test for COVID-19?

    Yes. Even though your child has hay fever, this doesn’t mean that they cannot have COVID-19. If your child has new symptoms, they should have a COVID-19 test. If your child gets new symptoms at any time, even if they had a negative test initially, your child should have another test.

    My child has been staying indoors and doesn’t have asthma or hay fever symptoms. Should they still use their asthma preventer and/or nasal steroid spray?

    If your child is on a preventer for asthma, continue this unless advised to stop by your doctor. It is also recommended that they continue their medications such as nasal steroid spray, to minimise asthma and hay fever symptoms as well as decrease their risk of getting Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma in spring. Please see your family doctor to discuss this.

    Is it easy to tell the difference between allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms?

    It can be difficult to tell if your child has allergy symptoms, COVID-19 symptoms or both. The symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and seasonal allergies like hay fever can be similar. Please see Figure 1: Common symptoms associated with Allergy and Coronavirus, which explains common symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies, and the symptoms both COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share. 

          

    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Emergency and Allergy and Immunology departments. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.

    Developed October 2020.

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au.

     
     

Disclaimer  

This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.