Hay Fever, Allergies and Asthma
Spring is well and truly with us! And with it comes sunshine, warmer weather and longer days; all the things we enjoy at this time of the year.
But for those with allergies, the next few months will perhaps be the worst. 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 the unusual non- seasonal weather changes, including rain, create conditions for the growth of grasses and as a result, more pollen.”[i] Airborne pollen coupled with Melbourne’s open spaces make us one of the worst cities for allergic reactions during these Spring months.[ii]
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. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, is the body’s reaction to inhaled pollen[iii]. 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.[iv] 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.
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.[v] 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.[vi] Even those who don’t normally experience symptoms of hay fever may still suffer from “pollen asthma” during these pollination months.
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.[vii]
- staying indoors,
- 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
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!
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