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COVID-19 or hayfever? How to tell the symptoms apart (and when you should get a test)

A respiratory expert says he expects a spike in the number of Victorians getting tested for COVID-19 in coming weeks, as hayfever season begins.

Director of respiratory medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Associate Professor Lou Irving, says sneezing and itchy eyes are allergy symptoms that aren’t usually associated with COVID-19.

But if in doubt, Professor Irving says it’s best to get a COVID-19 test.

“If there’s any level of suspicion … have a test,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“If there’s also itchy eyes, if there’s an obvious trigger such as a flowering tree out the front of the house, and if there’s good response by … using antihistamines, it’s much more likely to be hayfever, but the conditions can occur together.

“There can be confusion in some cases.

“I’m amazed by how mild the symptoms can be, particularly in previously well and relatively young people.”

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COVID-19, allergies, or something else?