Spring is back and that means hay fever is here, too.
If you constantly have hay fever or develop an allergy during spring, we have good news for you.
Allergies and hay fever symptoms can be easily controlled starting at home. Read on for information on hayfever and tips on providing hayfever relief for yourself and your family at home and in the office.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis, which basically means an allergy that affects the nose. Most people develop hay fever in spring, which is when airborne pollens from grasses are at their peak. However, hay fever can occur at any time of the year. This is known as perennial allergic rhinitis, which is usually caused by a reaction to allergens around the home, such as dust mites, moulds or animal hair or fur or occupational allergens.
Some symptoms of hay fever are sneezing; runny or blocked nose; itchy ears, nose and throat; red, itchy or watery eyes; and headaches. In some cases, the symptoms are so severe that someone cannot sleep or concentrate, and may feel tired and unwell.
How does hayfever develop?
Hayfever is an allergic reaction that happens when particles such as dust, pollen, and other microscopic particles, get trapped in the nose or nasal passage. When this happens, a person may develop an allergic reaction, where the immune system treats a harmless substance as if it is dangerous and subsequently try to treat itself by launching an 'attack' - this lead to the nasal passage becoming inflamed and more mucus being produced.
Tips for hayfever relief
1. Minimise exposure to allergens
- Know your allergens: Check out a pollen calendar as this helps you identify plants that trigger your symptoms and when they're most likely to be flowering. This way, you can always be prepared when you go out. (Also check out the Melbourne Pollen Count App for your phone).
- Smearing petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) inside your nose when you are outdoors helps to trap pollens and stop them from reaching the inner lining of your nose
- Wear sunglasses and frequently splash your eyes with water to protect eyes from irritation and flush out any pollen
- Stay away from parks and gardens
- Shower after playing sport or going outdoors to rinse off any pollen you may have been exposed to
- Use re-circulated air in the car, especially when pollen levels are high. Always keep windows closed.
2. Target symptoms immediately
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to work out the best treatment for you. Not all medicines for hay fever work the same way. There are nasal decongestant types, drops, syrups, sprays and tablets.... talk to a medical professional to work out what will work for you.
3. Keep your indoors clean
Hay fever can happen any time of the year, too, usually due to dust mites in your home. These tips from allergists can help make your home friendlier to those with indoor allergies:
Keep indoors dry
A high level of humidity indoors (more than 60% Relative Humidity) actually encourages the growth of dust mites indoors. Dust mites can't survive in less than 50% RH, so buy a hydrometer to measure your indoor humidity level, and use a dehumidifier to keep humidity under 50% .
Avoid using carpets and rugs
Carpets and heavy drapes are a breeding ground for dust mites and shouldn't be used, especially in bedrooms. If removing them is not an option, then frequent vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum is necessary. Wear an N95 particulate mask during and immediately after cleaning as particles can remain airborne for up to 2 hours. Or better yet, get someone else to do the cleaning for you.
Mite-Proof your bed
Buy good quality, microfiber 'mite-proof' covers from a reputable company to encase your mattress, pillows and comforters. Linen and stuffed animals should be washed weekly - regular washing is extremely important, and washing in any temperature will dramatically reduce the level of allergens.
Opt for smooth
Smooth surfaces are easier to clean and healthier for allergy sufferers. If possible, avoid buying furniture with upholstered surfaces as much as you can as these keep a lot of dust mites and allergens.
Clean the air
Keep indoor allergens away at home - prevent pets and smoking indoors, or at least from your bedroom. HEPA air purifiers are ideal for the bedroom and living room and help to filter out most of the allergens and pollen from the air, keeping indoor air clean and healthy.
To minimise indoor allergens, heating and air conditioning units should be cleaned and serviced every 6 months. Gas appliances and fireplaces should be vented outside and regularly maintained as well.