Millions of people worldwide are affected by allergic rhinitis - more commonly known as hay fever. So exactly what causes it?

Well, it's all thanks to allergens including pollens, dust mite, moulds, and animal dander, which then cause reactions including:

  • Runny, itchy, congested nose.

  • Itchy, watery, irritated, red eyes.

  • Itchy ears, throat and palate.

From late winter into early spring and beyond, pollen counts tend to rise, and with it so does hay fever symptoms. If you find you're susceptible to this allergen, visit PollenForecast to get the latest pollen count for your area.

Managing allergic rhinitis

Some simple prevention and management tips include:

  • Be aware of the pollen count if you're going outside so you can prepare a treatment plan. This could include anti-histamines, eye drops, nasal spray or applying vaseline to your nostrils as this will help stick pollen and avoid inhaling it further.

  • Avoid hanging washing outside when the pollen count is high as pollen can stick onto clothes. Similarly, remove clothing and wash them when you have been outside in an area where the pollen count is high.

  • If you have been exposed to pollen once home, shower and wash your hair to avoid spreading pollen to your bed, sofa, and other areas of your house.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) also suggests to stay indoors until midday (particularly on windy days), wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, keep windows closed at home and in the car, plan holidays outside of pollen season or simply travel to the seaside (there are less pollens by the ocean).

Also be kind to yourself if you're having a hay fever flare up, don't over-exert yourself. For example, if you feel exhausted give yourself a break and don't worry about exercising if you don't feel up to it.

Asthma advice

For those suffering from asthma, allergic rhinitis can become quite dangerous if not taken seriously.

According to ASCIA, "small particles of pollen can penetrate deep into the airways of the lung" and may spark an asthma attack. Thunderstorms can also do this. Read more about Thunderstorm Asthma here.

See your GP for an effective treatment plan.

Which antihistamines work best

There are many hay fever medications on chemist shelves, so it can be tricky understanding which will work best for you and your individual symptoms.

Speak to your local pharmacist about your symptoms and they can provide advice on which antihistamine brand and formula may work best for you.

If over-the-counter treatment (antihistamines) is not working, speak to your GP for prescribed treatment.

Depending on your symptom severity, they can discuss long-term treatment, such as allergen immunotherapy (AIT) with you. "This switches off the allergic reaction, by repeatedly introducing small doses of allergen extracts, by injection, sublingual tablets, sprays or drops," according to ASCIA. "AIT is a long term treatment which is usually given over a few years. It should only be started after assessment by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist to determine if this is a suitable treatment option."

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language.

Image credit: Brittany Colette on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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