Man with hay fever symptoms, allergies

What’s Causing Your Sniffles?

Symptoms caused by hay fever may seem similar to a flu but they are two distinct conditions with different causes, mode of transmission and treatments.
By the team at Speedoc,
April 30, 2024

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic condition that affects about 20% of the Singapore population. Unlike a flu that is caused by the influenza virus, hay fever occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens, releasing histamines and other chemicals that cause inflammation in your nasal passage. 

While hay fever is often associated with pollen allergies, hay fever can also be triggered by various allergens present in Singapore's environment such as: 

Pollen: Though Singapore's tropical climate lacks the distinct four seasons found in temperate regions, certain plants still release pollen throughout the year, particularly grass and tree pollen.

Dust mites: These microscopic creatures thrive in warm, humid environments, making Singapore's climate ideal for their proliferation. Dust mites can be found in bedding, curtains, and carpets.

Mould spores: Singapore's high humidity levels provide an ideal environment for mould growth, both indoors and outdoors. Mould spores can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Pet dander: Many households in Singapore have pets, and the dander they shed can exacerbate hay fever symptoms in allergic individuals.

Hay fever or flu?

Hay fever



Airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mould spores, and pet dander.

Influenza A and B viruses.


Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, nasal congestion, itching of the throat or ears, and coughing.

Fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also occur, especially in children.


Hay fever symptoms can occur seasonally or year-round, depending on the allergen triggers and individual sensitivity.

Flu usually lasts for about 1 to 2 weeks, although symptoms can persist longer in some cases.


Hay fever is not contagious.

People with the flu are contagious from about one day before symptoms appear to up to seven days after becoming sick.

If you're unsure about your symptoms, it's best to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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Woman with hay fever symptoms and remedy

Treating hay fever

Managing hay fever involves a combination of preventive measures and treatment options. Some examples include:

  • Allergen avoidance- Take steps to minimise exposure to known allergens by keeping indoor spaces clean and well-ventilated, using air purifiers, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak pollen times.
  • Medications- Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays can provide relief from hay fever symptoms. 

  • Nasal irrigation- Using a saline solution to rinse the nasal passages can help alleviate congestion and remove traces of allergens.

  • Eyedrops- Antihistamine eye drops provide fast relief for itchy watery eyes, while decongestant eye drops contain vasoconstrictors which help reduce blood flow to the eyes and decrease redness and swelling.

The effects of hay fever can negatively impact one’s quality of life. Poor sleep quality leading to lethargy and lack of concentration the following day may also affect performance in school or at work. When dealing with the inconvenient symptoms of hay fever, it is best to consult a healthcare professional who can provide personalised guidance and treatment recommendations based on your specific symptoms, drug allergies and medical history.

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