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The season for allergies

The season for allergies

One in five people.

That is how many people are affected by hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, in Australia.

Chances are someone in your family or circle of friends is impacted by the condition and manages it on a daily basis.

The condition is caused by the body’s immune system reacting to common allergens in the environment such as pollen, house dust mites, moulds and animal skin and fur.

The symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Blocked nose
  • Snoring

Spring seems to be when hay fever is most felt by people as flowers come into bloom, the bees continue to pollinate, and our furry friends shed their winter coats.

So how can you make sure you can enjoy this beautiful season through the sneezes and itchy eyes?

What are my treatment options?

There are several ways to manage hay fever depending on the severity.

  • Non-drowsy antihistamines: These are available at your local pharmacy and can be used for mild symptoms like itching, sneezing and watering eyes.
  • Intranasal Corticosteroid Spray: If you have nasal congestion or blockage, or if symptoms are present for longer than four days, you may require preventative treatment by using a spray on a regular basis. It is best to consult with your pharmacist as different brands vary in strength.
  • A combination: It may be best to use a combination of an antihistamine and intranasal corticosteroid nasal spray. This is available through a prescription from your doctor.
  • Decongestant sprays: These unblock and dry the nose but should not be used for more than a few days as they can cause long-term damage in the nose.
  • Decongestant tablets: These also unblock and dry the nose but should be used with caution as they can have side effects. People with high blood pressure should avoid taking these.
  • Natural products: Saline nasal sprays can also be effective in relieving symptoms.

What if these don’t help?

If your hay fever symptoms are difficult to control or persist for a long period of time, your doctor may refer you to an allergy specialist who will consider your options, including immunotherapy.

Allergen Immunotherapy has been used for more than 100 years as a proven treatment for long-term relief of hay fever. The aim is to help people react less to the allergen (for example, dust or pollen) that causes the symptoms associated with the ailment.

The treatment involves regularly exposing the person to the allergens that cause their allergic symptoms. Over time, the immune system is retrained to become less reactive to the trigger.

The treatment can be delivered through injection, or by spray, tablet or drop under the tongue but it is best to speak to your doctor about what it best for you. St.LukesHealth may be able to provide benefit for some registered tablet and injected allergen immunotherapy products.

For more information, visit www.allergyfacts.org.au

- Information sourced from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia