Spring has sprung. It’s time to shrug off the winter weight doona and handwash-only woollens and enjoy the warmer weather, blossoming flowers and outdoor catch-ups with friends.
Unless of course you’re one of the many Australians who suffer from asthma or hay fever, then spring is the season of wheezing, sneezing and reaching for the antihistamines.
In Australia, around one in 10 people have asthma and nearly one in five people suffer from allergic rhinitis, commonly referred to as ‘hay fever’. Asthma is characterised by breathlessness, wheezing, a tight feeling in your chest and a persistent cough, while hay fever results in a blocked nose, sneezing and watery eyes.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, around 80 percent of people with asthma also suffer from hay fever, while between 15 percent and 30 percent of people with hay fever also have asthma.
Whether you suffer from asthma or hay fever (or both), your symptoms will probably flare up in spring. Here’s why.
1. Pesky pollen.
During spring we are exposed to more airborne allergens like grass and tree pollen. This is exacerbated during thunderstorms when the pollen breaks into smaller pieces that are easier to inhale. For some people, the allergen reacts with specific antibodies causing an allergic reaction. For people with asthma, it can result in more frequent attacks.
The pesky pollen also confuses our bodies. During winter, our immune system doesn’t have to deal with these allergens, so when spring arrives it goes into overdrive, producing lots of antibodies and causing sufferers to feel like they’ve got a bad cold.
2. Change in temperature.
Spring transitions us from the cold of winter to the heat of summer, and that transition isn’t always smooth. When the weather becomes warm and moist, fungi release microscopic spores into the air which can trigger some people’s allergies. When the mould spore lands on the sensitive lining of your nose or in your eyes, it can cause an allergic reaction resulting in incessant sneezing, itchy eyes and asthma.