The symptoms of the Delta variant may not be all that different to some of the signs of hay fever, prompting confusion for many people, especially with the latter proving particularly bad this year.
Despite the official NHS-listed symptoms of Covid-19 being a continuous cough, loss of sense of taste or smell, and a fever – it was recently revealed the Delta variant is more likely to present with symptoms including a runny nose.
Professor Tim Spector, an expert in genetic epidemiology from King’s College London (KCL), said the variant, which first originated in India, “is more like a bad cold” in the younger population and that “people don’t realise that”.
So how can you tell the difference?
What are the symptoms of the Delta variant?
The top reported symptom now is “headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever – all those are not the old classic symptoms,” said Prof Spector.
Cough is only the fifth most common symptom, he adds. “It’s rarer, and we don’t even see loss of smell coming into the top 10 anymore. This variant seems to be working slightly differently.”
He said young people might get symptoms that “feel like a bad cold or some funny ‘off’ feeling” – and said those who do experience these should stay at home and order a lateral flow test.
What about hay fever sypmtoms?
Typical symptoms of hay fever include:
sneezing and coughing
a runny or blocked nose
itchy, red or watery eyes
itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
loss of smell
pain around your temples and forehead
So how can you spot the difference?
Hay fever symptoms tend to come and go over several days. And they’re usually able improve with antihistamine medication. But Covid symptoms are likely to be more persistent, and get worse before they get better.
You’re more likely to feel lethargic and have a sore throat with Covid, unlike hay fever. Margaret Kelman, a specialist allergy nurse at charity Allergy UK told the i newspaper: “Unlike hay fever, which can make your throat itchy, the Delta variant is more likely to make your throat feel sore, like tonsillitis.
“With the Delta variant, headaches are more likely to feel heavy and affect the front of your head and eyes. The cough also tends to be dry and continuous.”
If you’re in any doubt, you can get a PCR Covid test if you are experiencing one of the three main symptoms.
However if your symptoms are more reminiscent of a cold and you want peace of mind, you can order free lateral flow tests via the government’s website.