Pollen allergy symptoms can be confused with coronavirus

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Similar symptoms

Pollen season is underway in Japan and people with allergies are encouraged to take special precautions.

The Japanese Society of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery urges those with allergies to seek medical attention and begin treatment early to prevent symptoms from being confused with those of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

According to the company’s experts, 73% of people infected with Omicron have a runny nose, 60% sneeze and more than half suffer from fatigue. Some people also report a smell disorder. All four symptoms are also experienced by allergy sufferers.

Fever and smell disturbances would both be less of a problem for people infected with Omicron than the previous variants.


The society lists a series of risks for allergy sufferers:

  • Pollen allergy symptoms make it difficult to know if a coronavirus infection has been detected.
  • People infected with the coronavirus who also suffer from allergies are likely to sneeze and transmit the virus to those around them.
  • The amount of droplets spread by a sneeze is more than 10 times greater than that of a cough.
  • People with allergies can become infected with the virus if it comes into contact with their hands and they rub their itchy eyes and nose.

Consult a doctor

Cases have been recorded where people think they have pollen allergies, but are later diagnosed with the coronavirus. Allergy sufferers are recommended to consult a doctor and seek early treatment to relieve symptoms.

Pollen forecast up 50% for Tokyo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government expects a 50% increase in the amount of cedar and cypress pollen this spring compared to last year. Cedar pollen has been spreading since mid-February. The Japan Weather Association says its peak in Tokyo will arrive this month.

Nationally, the Japan Weather Association also expects more pollen this year, especially in the Tokai, Hokuriku, Kanto-Koshin and Hokkaido regions. After this month’s cedar pollen spike, cypress pollen will spread through late April.

This information is accurate as of March 1, 2022.

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