Hay Fever Facts
Hay fever affects up to one in five people at some point in their life. It is an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder released by plants, containing proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.
Across the year, you can have an allergic reaction to:
- Tree pollen, released during spring
- Grass pollen, released during the end of spring and beginning of summer
- Weed pollen, released any time from early spring to late autumn
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- A runny nose
- Itchy eyes
Many people find that their symptoms improve as they get older. Around half of people report some improvement in symptoms after several years. In around 10%-20% of people symptoms go away completely.
Who is affected
Hay fever usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years, but you can get it at any age.
The condition is more common in boys than in girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected.
Hay fever is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema.
Hay fever does not pose a serious threat to health but it can have a negative impact on your quality of life. People with very bad hay fever often find that it can disrupt their productivity at school or work.
Another common complication of hay fever is inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis). Children in particular may also develop a middle ear infection (otitis media) as a result of hay fever.
There is currently no cure, but to a certain extent, most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment.
The most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen as mush as possible.
Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help prevent an allergic reaction from happening and corticosteroids, which help reduce levels of inflammation and swelling.
Many cases of hay fever can be controlled using over-the-counter medication available from your pharmacist. But if your symptoms are more troublesome it’s worth speaking to your GP as you may require prescription medication.
For persistent and severe hay fever there is also a type of treatment called immunotherapy where you are exposed to small amounts of pollen over time to build up a resistance to its allergic effects. However, this can take many months or even years to be effective.
It is sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms of hay fever by taking some basic precautions, such as:
- Wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you are outdoors.
- Changing your clothes and taking a shower after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body.
- Trying to stay indoors when the pollen count is high (over 50). You can find the pollen count of your area at http://asthmaaustralia.org.au/SA/Adelaide_Pollen_Count/