When Spring arrives, it means more sunshine, warmer weather and longer days; all the things we enjoy.
But for those with allergies, Spring can be a time to dread. Professor Mimi Tang, allergy specialist from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute says that Melbourne’s temperature climate is “well suited for the growth of grasses such as rye grass ... and as a result, more pollen.” Airborne pollen coupled with Melbourne’s open spaces make us one of the worst cities for allergic reactions during these Spring months.
What is Hay Fever?
Sneezing, runny noses, itchy ears, nose and throat and red, itchy or watery eyes can all be unpleasant allergy symptoms. These, along with headaches, and even trouble sleeping, are the most common symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, is the body’s reaction to inhaled pollen. Your nose acts as a filter to trap any dust, mould and pollen to prevent it from travelling through to your lungs. For those who suffer allergic reactions, this results in the nasal passages becoming inflamed and more mucus is produced. Whilst this can occur any time of the year as a reaction to allergens around the home, the effects of hay fever during the warmer months can be debilitating.
Symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis):
Itchy, runny or blocked nose
Itchy or watery eyes
Always feeling like you have a head cold
Frequent sore throats
Breathing through the mouth
Facial pain or pressure
Repeatedly getting middle ear infections
Constantly coughing to clear the throat or soon after lying down to sleep
Sleeping badly or being tired during the day
Breathing problems even when your asthma is well controlled
Not only those with hay fever allergies are affected by the increased pollen in the air during the spring and summer months. During the latter part of 2016, Melbourne experienced one of the worst “asthma thunderstorms” ever recorded. Storms and strong winds sweep up grass pollen, causing them to burst and release tiny particles. These particles are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs and trigger asthma symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing. Even those who don’t normally experience symptoms of hay fever may still suffer from “pollen asthma” during these pollination months.
People who have both asthma and allergic rhinitis should use both a preventer nasal spray and an asthma preventer inhaler regularly. Nasal sprays are most effective when used correctly. Visit the National Asthma Council website for step-by-step instructions and video demonstrations: www.nationalasthma.org.au
How to manage symptoms
Whilst allergic reactions like seasonal hay fever aren’t easily cured, they can be managed effectively. The most important step is to formulate a plan with your doctor. Simple tips such as those listed below combined with anti-histamines and anti-inflammatory asthma medication can help relieve symptoms of hay fever and pollen asthma. It is important that you understand what your triggers are and to then mitigate or avoid those triggers.
protecting your eyes,
wearing a mask when gardening or mowing the lawn,
checking the pollen count prior to going outside,
regularly washing eyes with cold water, and
asthmatic patients should consider regular lung function tests with their doctor
Asthma is a long-term lung condition. While 1 in 9 people have been diagnosed with asthma in Australia, the majority of those that suffer from the condition do not manage it correctly. This is particularly the case for asthmatics when using their inhalers. The article will provide you with the information you will need to understand the basics of asthma and how you can better manage your condition.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a grouping of lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. This disease does not have a cure. However, your local doctor or clinic nurse can help you manage COPD—helping you stay out of hospital and improving your quality of life.
What can you do?
If you or anyone in your family suffers from any of the symptoms above, consult with your doctor about a diagnosis and treatment plan. After all, we all want you and your families to enjoy these warmer months!
Tell your doctor:
when your symptoms started and whether they have become better or worse over time
whether you usually have symptoms at particular times of the year
if anything or any places seem to make symptoms better or worse
if you have any known allergic conditions (including asthma due to allergies, skin allergies) and whether family members have allergies
if you have tried any medicines, such as over-thecounter nasal sprays or tablets, and whether they made a difference.
Take this quiz to find out how much you know about hay fever!