Spring is the beautiful answer to the dark, cold days of winter and is an amazing time to be outdoors. However, for 1 in 5 Australians, spring and the change of the season bring the onset of allergies, in particular, hay fever.

What Is Hay Fever?

Hay fever doesn’t have to do anything with hay or fever. It is a response by the immune system when certain allergens present in the air meet the eyes or nose of a person who is allergic to them. A chemical named histamine will be released by the immune system to fight off the allergens. It is prevalent in the haying season when more allergens are released into the air hence the name hay fever. Hay fever could occur at any time of the year depending on allergens. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 1 in 5 Australians suffer from hay fever, also known as Allergic Rhinitis. Hay fever could be seasonal (occurring in a particular season due to pollen etc) or perennial (occurring all year due to dust mites, pet dander, moulds, etc.)

What Are Its Signs And Symptoms?

Allergic Rhinitis or Hay Fever has similar symptoms to cold, COVID, and other respiratory infections. In children, where colds are a common issue, this is especially difficult to diagnose. The major difference between cold and hay fever is the way it is contracted and the reaction of symptoms. Unlike a cold, hay fever is not caused by a virus and is not contagious. Some of the common signs and symptoms of Hay Fever include:
  • Continuous bouts of sneezing
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Itchy, blocked, and runny nose
  • Itchy throat and the roof of the mouth
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Persistent snoring
  • Breathlessness due to a blocked nose
  • Headaches or Facial aches
Other symptoms occur less frequently such as
  • Sore throat
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Ear and sinus infections especially in children
  • Tiredness and unable to perform daily activities.
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduced sense of smell

What Triggers Hay Fever?

Hay fever is triggered by many different allergens from pollen to pet dander. Some of the major triggers include:
  • Pollen (grass, weeds, or tree-related pollen)
  • Dust, Dust mites
  • Pet Dander (fur, saliva, dead skin, their excreta, and urine)
  • Spores from various fungi & moulds
  • Air pollutants & aerosol sprays
  • Latex and other materials
Triggers can be different for different people but also have genetic influences. A person could have different triggers or allergens responsible for hay fever at different times. There are various tests such as the prick tests to identify what a person could be allergic to.

What Is The Hay Fever Season In Australia?

Hay fever season can be different in various regions in Australia though mostly it is from October to December during the change from Spring to Summer. If pollen is the main cause of hay fever, it is lower on the East Coast compared to the Victorian south coast where most winds carry pollen from the Northern grasslands. One can check the pollen count in the region by visiting the Pollen Forecast website. Depending on the allergens, hay fever could be seasonal or occur all year round.

How To Cure Hay Fever Permanently?

There is currently no permanent cure for hay fever. People suffering from hay fever should contact their doctor to understand the various medications available to them and avoid the allergens as much as possible. A doctor might review the individual family history for allergies, recurrent attacks & impact to do daily activities and suggest either medication, at-home care, or further testing. Some of the medications include intranasal sprays, antihistamine tablets, eye drops & decongestants.

How To Prevent Hay Fever?

Minimising exposure to allergens is the most effective way of preventing hay fever. Identifying triggers, reducing the exposure to these allergens, having a good understanding of the medications and their dosage and the ability to identify allergic reactions as soon as possible are some of the ways to prevent hay fever. Other precautions and home remedies depending on the allergens include:
  • Pollen o Avoid going outdoors till noon during thunderstorms or days which has high pollen. o Avoid mowing or cutting grass, hiking, and other activities. o Avoid drying clothing and bedding outdoors. o Use glasses for eye protection while venturing out. o Have recirculated air switched on in the car.
  • Pet dander o Avoid having a pet indoors or being around pets in closed spaces. o Always wash your hands after holding a pet
  • Dust and dust mites o Avoid items that will collect dust such as soft toys, fur-based products, etc. o Wash bedding, pillow covers, and shades frequently. Have dust-mite resistant covers on them if possible. o Vacuum the house whenever possible.
  • Mould and spores o Avoid going on treks during the high pollen season. o Ensure there is a good amount of ventilation and natural light. o Remove any visible mould with care.
Being prepared for hay fever ensures a person has no interruptions in their daily work. Many people self-medicate if they have allergic rhinitis and often this ends up in inappropriate dosages or medications for the severity of their condition. A person suffering from fever, asthma, nasal polyps, recurring ear infections in children, or sinus infections and is prone to hay fever should immediately contact a doctor and get the right medication before the symptoms aggravate. With the right precautions, a good allergy management plan, and medication, hay fever can be controlled and will not disturb a person’s life.

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This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.