Allergic rhinitis occurs when a person breathes in something they are allergic to, called an allergen.
Common allergens include plant pollen, dust, animal dander, insect venom and mould. Hayfever, a form of allergic rhinitis, is due to outdoor triggers, such as plant pollen. Depending on the responsible plant, a person may suffer from hayfever seasonally or all year round.
Symptoms include watery nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing.
Although it may not be possible to avoid the allergens that cause symptoms altogether, there are several things a person can do to minimise the severity and frequency of hayfever episodes.
The likelihood of developing hayfever symptoms may be affected by how much pollen is in the air. There is usually more pollen around on hot, dry, windy days, as most pollen is washed to the ground when it is cool and raining. Remain indoors during high risk weather, in an air conditioned environment if possible. Avoid going outside in the early morning or evening, when pollen levels are highest. Also, keep windows in the house and car closed as much as possible. Wear a dust mask when completing outdoor tasks such as gardening and do not rake leaves or mow the lawn, as this stirs up pollens and moulds.
Wash away pollen
It seems obvious, but washing your hands and face to remove pollen will help to minimise the amount you breathe in. You can also brush off your clothes when you come home. Avoid drying your clothes outside, or hang them out later in the morning. Remember to bring them inside before evening, as this is when pollen begins to drop again and levels in the air are high.
Improve air quality
Pollen and dust in the home is a part of life for most people. However, high levels of allergens in the air can be minimised by regular dusting and vacuuming of furniture, floors and carpets. It may be worth investing in a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment. A humidifier may also help to remove some allergens from the air.
For more information, ASCIA website.