Put simply, hayfever is an allergy to everyday, airborne particles like pollen, dust, mould, feathers and animal dander (skin cells). Australians and New Zealanders have amongst the highest rates of allergy in the world.
Causes of Hayfever
- Allergies are the body’s reaction to harmless substances that can cause health issues.
- Immune system over-reaction releases histamine in response to foreign particles e.g. pollens. This inflames nasal tissue and brings on the symptoms.
- Family history may dictate whether or not you have an allergic reaction to pollen. That’s why some people suffer from hayfever, while others seem unaffected.
- Seasonal pollen released by plants during late winter and early spring is the reason hayfever is most common at this time of year.
Symptoms of Hayfever
- Sneezing and coughing
- Itchy, runny and stuffy nose and impaired smell
- Itchy roof of mouth and back of throat
- Red, itchy and watery eyes
- Itchy or sore throat
- Fatigue and irritability
For most of us, minimising the symptoms is an ongoing challenge. And unlike a cold, hayfever can last for many weeks.
How to manage Hayfever
Where possible, simply avoid contact with pollen. Stay in with the windows shut when levels are highest – before 10am and after sunset. Windy conditions can also stir it up, so don’t go out straight after a storm.
When you are out and about, wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes from pollen. And as it can get into your hair and clothes, having a shower before bed and drying clothes inside will help reduce your exposure.
Of course, pollen can easily blow into your home, so vacuum regularly. If you are particularly sensitive to your environment, things like dust, animal dander (skin cells) and mould can also cause hayfever. In this case, filtering your air and even removing carpet and bedding or avoiding pets might be necessary.
And modern-day pollution and chemicals can also increase the effects. So try to avoid sprays, tobacco smoke, bleach, car exhaust fumes, polishes, cleaning fluids, fresh paint and detergents.