Why is it so bad this year?
In Australia, we’re experiencing a wet year weather-wise, resulting in a high pollen load. Pollen causes allergic reactions ranging from sneezing, runny noses and itchiness, to respiratory difficulties and coughing. This means doctors and healthcare professionals are on alert to differentiate those with hayfever or asthma from suspected COVID patients.
I’m pretty sure its hayfever, but should I isolate or get tested for COVID?
We should always be alert and remember that if you think your symptoms are more than just an allergic reaction then treat it like COVID until proven otherwise.
If you are a hayfever sufferer, the ACT Health advice is to see your GP at the beginning of Spring to discuss a management plan for your hayfever or asthma. They will discuss how to prevent symptoms, for instance by the use of preventative medications, and what you should do if you develop them, including when you might need to make an appointment with your GP for review or get tested for COVID-19.
If you follow the advice of your GP, you might not need to get tested every time you have hayfever symptoms.
If you have fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath – isolate yourself and get tested. If you are in doubt, phone your GP to discuss.
If you are unsure if your symptoms are related to hayfever, self-isolate until you are able to seek medical advice.
My colleague is coughing or sneezing and says it's just hayfever, but how can I be sure?
If you are concerned about a colleague exhibiting symptoms that could be COVID-19, I suggest you talk to them about it. If they reassure you that it is just hayfever or asthma, particularly on a day when pollen count is high and when they have a long history of symptoms, then its best to take them at their word. If you continue to feel uncomfortable then excuse yourself from their vicinity.
Remember, this year is pretty tough and we need to show kindness and respect as we work together to get through in one piece.
Tracy Smart AO
Professor, Military and Aerospace Medicine
Public Health Lead - COVID Response Office