Now that spring has sprung, hay fever season is here.
Spring is one of the most wonderful times of the year, with warmer temperatures and parks and gardens bursting into life.
But for people who suffer from hay fever, it can mean unwanted symptoms that spoil their enjoyment of the great outdoors.
So if you’re dreading spring because of your hay fever, you’ll benefit from reading our latest post. We’re going to explain all about the condition and what you can do to manage it so that you can still enjoy the spring season.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, refers to an immune reaction triggered by allergens like pollen.
As many as 1 in 5 Australians have hay fever (1), affecting their day-to-day life to varying degrees.
Hay fever symptoms
The most common hay fever symptoms include:
- Runny, itchy or stuffy nose
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Frequent sneezing
- The feeling of a blocked throat
- A “fuzzy” feeling similar to how you feel when you have a cold
- Snoring while you sleep
What causes hay fever?
Despite its name, hay fever isn’t triggered by hay and doesn’t involve having a fever!
It is very commonly caused by grass, tree or weed pollen. Other culprits of hay fever include:
- Dust and dust mites
- Fur or flakes of skin from animals
- Fungal spores and moulds
- Air pollutants
- Cigarette smoke
When is the hay fever season?
When it comes to one of the most common allergens, pollen, different types are active at different times of the year. So, in theory, any time of year is hay fever season!
Grass is one of the major irritants, releasing the largest quantities of pollen.
Your hay fever season will also depend on where in Australia you live.
For instance, if you live in Melbourne, you’ll find the grass pollen peaks in October and November.
In Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney, you can expect a moderate amount of grass pollen in spring and higher levels in summer.
And if you reside in Darwin or Perth, you may suffer from hay fever triggered by grass pollen all year round, with a peak during the summer and late autumn.
Tree pollen is at its peak in late winter through to early spring, while pollen from weeds is present throughout the year.
What can I do to manage my hay fever?
Luckily, there are lots of ways you can manage your hay fever. Hay fever treatment includes:
- Taking antihistamines, which are medications to counter the effects of histamines, the substances released by your body during an allergic reaction
- Using eye drops to relieve irritated, red or watery eyes
- Using nasal sprays to help soothe and unblock your nose
- Using cooling products to relieve the “fuzzy”, stuffy feeling you get with hay fever
- Staying indoors when the pollen count is high
- Wearing face masks and sunglasses when you go outside to minimise contact with pollen
- Avoiding spending time in grassy areas
- Using an air purifier to filter pollutants and allergens out of the environment
- Keeping windows and doors closed at home whenever possible
- Removing any plants that trigger hay fever from your garden
Should I see my doctor about my hay fever?
If you can’t manage your hay fever symptoms well at home — for example, they affect your ability to sleep or function during the day — it might be time to see your doctor.
They will be able to order tests to find out what is triggering your hay fever, suggest new treatments and help you create a symptom management plan.
Your doctor may even be able to refer you to a specialist called a clinical immunologist who can offer you desensitisation treatment. This works by gradually exposing you to allergens to manage how your body reacts to them.
Don’t let hay fever rule your life!
The symptoms of hay fever can be irritating, but with the help of medication and coping strategies, you should be able to manage them.
To help you minimise contact with allergens and for relief from symptoms, take a look at the FeverMates online shop. We stock face masks, cooling products and more wellbeing items to help you regain control of your life, whatever the season.
And it’s always good to find out as much as you can about any health condition. For more information about hay fever and how to treat it, check out the Health Direct website.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website, ‘Allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”)’, 25 August 2020.