It was when my six year old sneezed a few times, had a tickly cough for a few minutes followed by the statement “my smell is kind of funny,” that I realised how much my sense of normality – as a carer - had been reframed. Instead of calmly administering a dose of antihistamine, watching, waiting and reassuring him that it was likely just a touch of hay fever, I leapt up off my seat checked his temperature and obsessed about coronavirus for the next 10 minutes until my doctor head kicked in.

It’s that awful time of year again!

As we have ventured back out into the world, many of you may have found that you are sneezing a lot more, may have an irritant cough, a runny nose, itchy/watery eyes or may have even developed an altered sense of smell. In times gone by you would’ve simply deemed it to be a minor ailment and gotten on with your life however now, with the scare of covid-19 on our doorsteps, how can you be sure if it’s hay fever or covid19?

Hay fever, for which the most common cause is grass pollen, is typically most prevalent from May to July so right now is when we will be feeling it the most. The pollen count is very high too at the moment so symptoms will be worse.

Before you start panicking, review if the cough is new and persisting i.e. lasting for more than an hour. If this is the case, suspect covid as a possible diagnosis and self-isolate immediately. With hay fever the difference is that the symptoms tend to fluctuate depending on the time of day; pollen levels are often higher in the afternoons and evenings.

The other difference is that Covid typically causes a fever (temperature >37.8) whereas hay fever doesn’t.

It is also important to note that anyone can develop hay fever at any point in their life and some years can be worse than others depending on pollen counts. It can also make symptoms of asthma worse so be vigilant and if you are worried about your breathing, contact your GP for a review.

If you have one of more of the following symptoms : a new and persistent cough, a temperature or loss of smell - you must suspect Covid-19 and follow the government guidance and self-isolate for 7 days. If you live in the same household as someone with coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate straight away for 14 days. Remember to download the test and trace app and input your symptoms.

Glasgow Times: Do you suffer from hay fever? (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’ve got itchy/watery/red eyes, sneezing, runny nose or have an intermittent cough (with no fever symptoms), then suspect hay fever and take an over-the-counter antihistamine. Pharmacies are open as usual so seek advice if necessary from your local pharmacist. If symptoms are particularly troublesome or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, on other medications or are worried in any other way, phone your GP. The same goes for kids.

Another tip that has been helping my son is using either Vaseline or Hay Max and rubbing any of these around your nostrils and around the bony area under your eyes. These products act to help trap pollen, reducing its chances of entering your nose. An additional benefit is that this helps soothe surrounding skin especially if you’ve been over blowing or rubbing your nose.

Hay fever makes everyone feel miserable and it can be debilitating in extreme cases. The government advice continues to tell us that staying home is safest in order to avoid contracting coronavirus. Well, the same goes for hay fever – staying home especially in the afternoons and evenings, keeping windows closed and keeping the environment cool will significantly alleviate your symptoms.