IN AN unprecedented challenge for hay fever sufferers, many residents are trying to hide their allergy symptoms this Spring in fear of being perceived as a COVID-19 carrier.
While it may be both scary and confusing to find yourself with a runny nose in 2020, doctors are warning patients not to confuse hay fever symptoms with coronavirus.
Allergist Theresa Pitts has advised allergy sufferers to stay vigilant with their antihistamines, and to book a test if they feel even the slightest bit doubtful.
"People do worry that their allergies will be confused with coronavirus," Dr Pitts said.
"If you're not sure whether it's allergy or coronavirus, then it's really important to be tested."
Dr Pitts also advised patients to watch for aches, pains and fever-like symptoms, which are not typically allergy related and potentially a sign of viruses.
Her advice for hay fever sufferers is to spend more time indoors away from allergen sources, a tip many Australians will find familiar.
Both COVID-19 and hay fever can present similar symptoms, including a runny nose, blocked sinuses, cough, sneezing, itchy eyes, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Asthma Australia chief executive Michele Goldman said runny nose and irritated eyes were particularly troublesome symptoms, since they prompt people to touch their face and can increase their chance of COVID-19 infection.
"In a pandemic, if you can prevent sneezing, a runny nose, rubbing your eyes and getting shortness of breath, you should, it will be better for you and those around you," Ms Goldman said.
"If you get on top of your allergies and asthma, you have a clearer picture of any new or worsening symptoms which may be caused by other things, like the COVID-19 virus."
If you would like to arrange a test at any of the Murrumbidgee Local Health District testing centres, call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099 to book an appointment.