Help! I’ve just been diagnosed with hayfever
Hayfever is the common name given to a condition called seasonal allergic rhinitis, which can occur in spring and summer, and perennial allergic rhinitis, which can occur all year round. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with the condition, you’ll be familiar with the sudden and frequent attacks of sneezing, nasal discharge and watery, swollen eyes it may cause.1 These symptoms are triggered by an overreaction of the immune system to various pollens and moulds in the air, such as grass pollens, tree pollens, ragweed and fungus growing on dead leaves.2 You are definitely not alone in suffering from this condition‐ it affects one in four people in Australia and New Zealand and can have significant impact on quality of life.3
Where you live in Australia can have an impact on how often and how severely you suffer from hayfever symptoms. You may already know this if you’ve moved states and found symptoms become worse or more frequent. For example, pollen numbers are lower on the east coast of Australia where the prevailing winds come from the sea and where there is protection from westerly winds by the Great Dividing Range. Pollen numbers are higher on the Victorian south coast because the prevailing winds are from the north, carrying pollen from the northerly grasslands. In South Australia and Western Australia, the concentration of pollen can vary according to the prevailing winds.4
Thankfully there are several steps you can take to minimise the likelihood of developing hayfever symptoms on a daily basis. Try to stay indoors on hot, windy days when pollen counts are likely to be higher5 and keep windows in your house and car closed as much as possible. Remember to wash your face and hands often and brush off clothing when you come home to minimise the amount of pollen you inhale.6
If your hayfever symptoms are mild to moderate, an antihistamine medication such as Telfast may be helpful. Antihistamine medications work by blocking histamine, the chemical released during allergic reactions which is responsible for the symptoms of hayfever. Antihistamines are an effective treatment for itching, sneezing and runny nose.7 If you develop more severe hayfever please seek advice from your healthcare provider for further treatment options.