Itchy, watery eyes? Sniffly nose? Scratchy throat?
Congratulations, friend: you have hay fever. And even if you don’t, you probably will soon – experts are warning this could be the worst season of hay fever we’ve seen in years.
Ed Newbigin, who is Associate Professor of Botany at Melbourne University, told The Herald Sun that wet weather at the start of Spring means a cursed summer of hay fever ahead.
“It’s going to be a bad season, particularly compared to the last few seasons,” he predicted.
Australia had its seventh wettest July on record this year, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. This leads to increased grass growth and more pollen in the air, particularly in South East Australia. Our noses are itching just thinking about it.
Asthma and hay fever sufferers have therefore been warned to take extra precautions, stock up antihistamine medication and always carry an inhaler in case of breathing difficulties.
So what causes hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to dust, pollen, and other microscopic particles becoming trapped in the tiny hairs of your nasal passages. The immune system then flares up and causes sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, itchy ears, nose and throat, red, itchy or watery eyes, and even headaches.
How can I control my hay fever?
Better Health Victoria suggest the following treatments for managing symptoms this horror hay fever season:
1. Intranasal corticosteroid sprays.
“These nasal sprays contain very low-dose steroids and are one of the most effective treatments for allergic rhinitis,” it says on Better Health Victoria’s website, adding that they need to be used regularly to be effective.
2. Non-sedating antihistamine medications.
These sprays will work to stop sneezing and itching, but not a heavily blocked or running nose. “Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you are breastfeeding, as some medications can cause breastfed babies to become irritable and restless.” (Post continues after gallery.)
3. Eye drops.
The hay fever sufferer’s best friend to relieve itchy, swollen or runny eyes. But remember: there are hundreds of different types, so ask your pharmacist for help.
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