Frequently asked questions

Will an antihistamine make me drowsy?

 Second generation antihistamines (often referred to as non-sedating antihistamines), such as Telfast, offer relief from hayfever symptoms quickly, easily and without drowsiness. Antihistamines that have a sedating effect, not only cause drowsiness, but also can slow reaction time and reduce concentration. This more subtle effect of sedation is called impairment. Driving while sedated is dangerous. The driver may feel noticeably drowsy; may have impaired coordination and slowed reactions. That is why some antihistamines carry a sedation warning on their pack. Always read the label carefully. In studies, subjects taking Telfast have reported drowsiness at a similar rate to placebo. 

Telfast is a non-sedating antihistamine and does not carry a sedation warning. 

Do I really have to get rid of my pet?

You can always try keeping the pet outside, however generally the only effective avoidance measure is to remove the pet from the home altogether.

If I have allergies will my child?

Family history of allergic disease is an identified risk factor for a child developing an allergy; however, it is possible to take steps to minimise allergies developing in children. The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy offers helpful advice on ways to achieve this.

Do I need a prescription to treat my allergies?

No, you do not always necessarily need a prescription. First line therapy for treating hayfever is available over the counter; however, it is always a good idea to seek a doctor or pharmacists opinion of your condition. If your symptoms persist you should seek further advice form your healthcare professional and they may recommend a treatment that may require a prescription.

If I am an asthmatic, should I avoid taking a steroid nasal spray?

As the steroids are localised to the nose, the dose absorbed by the blood is small, lessening concerns of steroid side effects. If patients are being treated for asthma or eczema, the total steroid load should be considered. Asthmatics should consult their doctor for advice on managing asthma and allergies.

What is urticaria?

Hives (sometimes called urticaria) are red, raised wheals on the skin, which are intensely itchy and are another example of an allergic reaction. Instead of the upper respiratory area displaying symptoms for a hayfever sufferer, for someone with hives it is the skin that indicates symptoms.

Urticaria can be ‘acute’ where the hives develop very suddenly, last a short while and then disappear, or ‘chronic’, where it is persistent and long lasting. The swellings themselves can be small (like mosquito bites) or large, measuring several centimetres.

Hives can appear anywhere on the body and may be scattered over more than one area. In severe cases, the whole face and body may be covered with inflamed, itchy skin bumps or blotches.

Are all antihistamines the same?

There are differences between antihistamines. These differences include; whether it causes drowsiness or not, how quickly they work and how long they last. Some antihistamines will work better for some people than others. Ask at your pharmacy for a recommendation if you are unsure.

Are you more likely to suffer from allergies at different ages?

Yes. Although allergies can affect you at any age, research indicates that in Australia you are most likely to suffer from allergies during your adult years. The report shows that of those people suffering from allergies in Australia, 78% are between the ages of 15 and 64 years. 1

What are the most common allergens?

One of the most common triggers of an allergic reaction is pollen, especially in spring, summer and autumn. Allergic reactions may also commonly be caused by dust and dust mites, animal dander, mould, insect venom and latex.2

Can an air purifier help with pollen?

Yes. Using a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) or an electrostatic air filter may help to decrease pollen levels in the home. It is also recommended that you keep the windows in your car and home closed to lower your exposure to pollen.3

Can an adult develop allergies later in life?

Yes, allergies can occur at any time and at any age. Exposure to allergens at a time when the body is weak, such as after an illness or during pregnancy may play a role in the development of allergies. Allergies may also go away and come back years later.4

What types of plants produce the most allergy‐causing pollen?

Types of plants commonly associated with high levels of allergy‐producing pollen include grasses and trees. Of the grasses associated with allergies, Blue, Bahia, Bermuda, Kentucky Blue, Timothy and Velvet grass are the most common. Pollen producing trees include Australian Pine, English Oak, London Plane, Mango, Murray Pine, Olive, Paper Bark Tea trees and Silver Birch.5

What does a pollen count mean?

A pollen count tells you the average number of pollen grains per cubic metre of air.6 This is important information for allergy sufferers, who may need to know when pollen levels are low, moderate or high. They can then take preventative measures when levels are high and an allergic reaction is likely.

How do I get tested for allergies?

The most common way to test for allergies is a skin test. During the testing, your skin is exposed to different common allergens, such as mould, animal dander and dust mites and is then observed for a period of time. If the skin develops swelling, itching, reddening or a raised bump, an allergy to the particular substance is present. The more the skin reacts to the allergen, the more severe the allergy.2

What causes a person to develop an allergy?

Most allergies have a hereditary link, meaning they are passed on from parents to their children. If a parent has an allergic condition, their child has a 50% chance of also experiencing allergies. If both parents have allergies, this risk increases to 75%.2

How are allergies diagnosed?

Allergies are diagnosed using your medical history, family history and in some cases, allergy testing. Your doctor will want to know about the symptoms you are experiencing, when and how often they occur and if anything seems to trigger them. Even if you think you know exactly what is causing the allergic reaction, your doctor may recommend that you undergo skin testing in order to obtain a definite diagnosis.7

Can allergies be cured?

There is no cure for allergies. Some people may outgrow certain allergies, such as food allergies, over time. However, allergies to inhalants, such as pollen and dust, generally persist as a lifelong condition.8

Can I catch allergies from someone else?

No. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless, called an allergen.2 There is no virus, bacteria or other infection involved in an allergic reaction, therefore they are not contagious and you cannot ‘catch’ an allergy from somebody else.