Expert warns hay fever symptoms could be new Covid variant - how to tell apart

An expert has issued a stark warning to Brits who believe they're merely suffering from hayfever, suggesting that their symptoms could be indicative of something far more serious.

As the new Covid FLiRT variant continues its spread across the UK, Brits are being urged to distinguish between typical summer hay fever symptoms and those of the contagious strain of the virus that brought the world to a standstill in 2020. This summer is witnessing an unusual surge in stuffy noses and heavy coughs as high pollen levels collide with the rise in Covid variants, putting the nation's respiratory health in jeopardy.

The FLiRT variant of Covid is believed to be responsible for a 24 per cent increase in hospital admissions related to the virus last month and currently accounts for about 40 per cent of all Covid cases in the UK. This worrying figure rises to 69 per cent of cases in the US.

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Meanwhile, the number of people suffering from hay fever in the UK continues to rise each year. The NHS estimates that around 20 per cent of UK residents will experience reactions this summer, following a mid-June report which saw a 147 per cent increase in hayfever sufferers seeking NHS advice, reports the Daily Star.

Those who have previously suffered from hay fever are also reporting more severe symptoms this year. This is making it harder to differentiate between the strikingly similar symptoms of Covid, reports the Express, reports the Mirror.

Hay fever suffers are experiencing an unusual uptick in symptoms, but it turns out that's not the only thing they should be wary of. A severe bug mimicking typical hay fever signs including itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny noses is actually the infectious FLiRT variant laying Britons low.

The University of Derby's exercise and sports expert, Rebecca Owen, shared insights with the Telegraph, noting the increased vulnerability to allergies post-Covid: "A lot of people have had Covid-19, and infections can make us more susceptible to allergies."

Owen highlighted a potential concern, adding: "They can activate the immune response in what's called mast cell activation syndrome, so while more studies are needed, it could be that some of those who have been infected with Covid may then develop hay fever."

But she emphasised the importance of testing to distinguish normal hay fever from the tricky FLiRT variant, as general symptoms often do not tell the full story.

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