Outdoors, sunshine, fresh air. But for some of us, fresh air is trouble. One in five Australians suffer from hayfever. Dr Sam Hay explains all.
Hayfever occurs when microscopic triggers land inside the nose and these triggers usually consist of things like dusts, pollens, grasses smoke and pollution. When these things land on the lining of the nose, they trigger an exaggerated immune response which causes swelling and bogginess, lots of mucus production, lots of tearing and the histamine that's produced also triggers lots of sneezing.
The main symptoms that come along with Hayfever are with your eyes, itching, scratching, dry eyes. With your nose, lots of nasal congestion lots of running and sneezing. But what people don't understand is that Hayfever can also cause problems with our sleep. It can cause daytime sleepiness and it really reduces our effectiveness at work for some people.
Hayfever tends to be seasonal because it's during the springtime that a lot more of the dusts and the pollens and the grasses are active and also during other times like thunderstorms. So in springtime, if you've got a persistent runny nose and sneezing, then it's probably not a viral cold and more likely to be Hayfever.
The basic treatment of Hayfever should centre around avoiding the things that trigger your symptoms and then treating the symptoms themselves.
So firstly with avoidance. We want to steer clear of the things that cause the problem. If it's a dusty environment, making sure you clean your house out frequently. Vacuuming, wet dusting all of your surfaces and if you've got floorboards, getting in there and mopping at least once a week. Air your door mats out, air your blankets out and if your pillows are old, probably anymore than about a year old, you should be thinking about changing those over.
Antihistamine tablets are very good at controlling the actual body's response. So when the dust and the pollen hits the lining of the noise, it reduces that swelling and that mucus production. You can use saline flushing for your nose and for your eyes and that'll just be simple drops or spray bottles where you can just simply have a bowl of salty water, stick your nose in it, have a good sniff. What that does is it flushes the pollen and the dust out of the nose and it gets the nose working properly.
But if you're struggling with symptoms, then it's important that you get along and see your doctor and they might consider sending you off to an allergy specialist where they can talk about whether you go through an immunisation type process which will reduce your symptoms in the long term. It's really, really difficult to get rid of Hayfever permanently. The problem is that Australia is the worst part of the world for allergy and for Hayfever. So pretty much move to Antarctica is your only option.