Allergy relief – respiratory expert shares top tips
If you sneezed your way through the last few days, you are not alone. About 4.6 million Australians are thought to suffer from hay fever (allergic rhinitis), with numbers continuing to grow.
Sneezing, runny nose and itchy-watery eyes are just some of the symptoms of hay fever.
It can be worse at this time of year due to allergic reactions to tree, grass or weed pollen. It can seriously affect people with lung conditions like asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
“Hay fever can hit at any time of year but it can be worse in Western Australia in the winter months and spring when weed, tree and grass pollen is high,” Professor Yuben Moodley from the Institute for Respiratory Health said.
“While it can be a mild condition for some, it can be debilitating for others, having an impact on their work and social lives.
“Steroid nasal sprays are the most effective but what most people don’t realise is you need to start taking them in advance of the pollen season,” Professor Moodley said.
“With nasal sprays it can take up to two weeks before you see results, so start taking them now if you do suffer from hay fever.
“There’s also a technique to using them, if you can taste the nasal spray, then you are doing it wrong. Asthma Australia provides some great guidelines on how to squirt your nasal spray correctly.
“Antihistamine tablets can also reduce symptoms but if you get hay fever on a regular basis you need to start taking them up to four weeks before you usually get symptoms.”
Professor Moodley said you can combine the spray and tablets – everyone needs to find out what works best for them. He also said you need to take them on a daily basis.
“To reduce asthma attacks you should carry your reliever inhaler with you every day and take any preventer or maintenance treatments as prescribed.” Professor Moodley said.
Research shows that climate change is also impacting those with hay fever. Many people feel like their allergies have got worse over the years.
“With climate change, we’re seeing earlier springs and later winters,” Professor Moodley said.
“The seasons are getting hotter with more pollen and longer, more intense pollination seasons.”
Professor Moodley’s tips for managing allergic rhinitis during the pollen season include:
- If there is a high pollen count close all your windows and stay indoors if possible. If you have to go outside wear sunnies.
- Nasal sprays are the most impactful but many people don’t know how to use them check out Asthma Australia’s tips on nasal sprays.
- Continue to take your preventer medication for asthma and hay fever, to reduce the likelihood of flare-ups.
- Be aware of high pollen days. There are several pollen monitoring apps and websites including Auspollen – but they don’t cover all states.
- Work with your GP on a clear action plan and when it might be time to see someone for specialist treatment like immunotherapy.
- If there is a high pollen count close all you windows and stay indoors if possible. If you have to go outside put some sunnies on.