Could I have hayfever?
Hayfever (allergic rhinitis) is a common condition affecting one in five people in Australia and New Zealand. While it typically develops in childhood, it is not unusual to develop hayfever as an adult. In fact, hayfever seems to peak between the ages of 25‐44. In people with hayfever, contact with allergens from pollen, moulds, animal dander or dust mites can set off an allergic response that results in a recurrent runny, stuffy and itchy nose, itchy and watery eyes and frequent sneezing. While these symptoms are similar to those caused by a cold or flu,allergy symptoms tend to persist as long as the allergen is around or if left untreated. Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal or occur throughout the year depending on the allergy. Having a family history of allergies also increases a person’s susceptibility to hayfever.
If you think you may have hayfever try keeping a record of how, when and under what circumstances your symptoms occur. This can be helpful for both you and your doctor in determining what your triggers are and how to manage your condition.
How do I know for sure that I have hayfever?
If your doctor suspects that you have hayfever, they will consider your symptoms, find out about your everyday environment, do a physical examination and possibly refer you to a specialist for allergy tests. Skin prick testing is often used to determine what you are allergic to if the pattern isn’t obvious. A drop of commercially produced allergen extract is placed on your skin, often the forearm, and a small prick of your skin through the drop is made, which allows a small amount of the allergen to enter the body. If you are allergic to the tested allergen, a small lump will appear after 15‐20 minutes. Blood tests may also be performed to check IgE antibody levels and eosinophil cell counts, which are often raised in people with allergies.
For more information, ASCIA website.