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Managing springtime allergies

23 September, 2016

As winter comes to a close, there’s a lot to be excited about. The days are longer, the weather’s warmer, and the grass is greener. But for millions of Australians, the new season brings nothing but a hard time dealing with hay fever! 

Spring time is allergy time, but there are ways to ease symptoms and avoid an unpleasant three months. 

What is it about spring and allergies? 

As spring blooms, plants release pollen and millions of people with hay fever and asthma feel the unpleasant effect... When inhaled, pollen from grasses, weeds or trees can trigger symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma, with symptoms potentially lasting for several months. 

Allergic symptoms may include:

  • A runny, itchy or congested nose.
  • Irritable, itchy, watery and red eyes.
  • Itchy ears, throat and palate.
  • Wheezing.

Can medications help?

The good news about springtime allergies is there are many effective treatments available. Allergies don’t have to take over your life every time spring rolls around, nor do you have to flee to the Northern Hemisphere for another round of winter! 

Seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor about any medications or treatments that will alleviate your symptoms. Although medications cannot cure allergies, they are more effective today than they were 20 years ago.

Antihistamine tablets or syrups

Non-sedating antihistamine tablets and syrups help reduce sneezing, itching and eye irritation, but are not as effective at controlling severe nasal blockage. Antihistamine tablets can be taken when needed, making them a good option for those not wanting to take daily medication. 

Intranasal corticosteroid nasal sprays (INCS)

Nasal sprays vary in strength and effectiveness, so it’s important to read the label and check details with your doctor or pharmacist before you use them. When used regularly, they can have a potent effect on reducing nasal inflammation.

Saline sprays

Natural products like saline sprays are good for temporary relief, however they are less effective than other options. A sinus rinse using a saline solution may have a stronger effect. 

Allergen immunotherapy

A long-term treatment usually administered over a few years, allergen immunotherapy ‘switches off’ a person's allergic reaction by repeatedly introducing small doses of allergen extracts by injection, sublingual drops or tablets until immunity is built. This often needs to be administered under the supervision of a doctor, so seek advice from your medical professional.

Before proceeding with any allergy treatments, consult your health practitioner or a qualified pharmacist to ensure the medical treatment you choose is right for you. 

What about lifestyle changes? 

As with any treatment, medications should always be combined with healthy lifestyle practices. For some, making a few small changes to their lifestyle can eliminate the need for medications. 
Taking a natural approach to life’s problems should always be your first step, so why not try:

Eating right

Studies continually show that antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, green tea, and other foods and beverages help. Reducing inflammation is a critical factor in controlling allergies, and the right eating habits can have an incredibly positive effect on symptoms. 

Avoiding stress

When we get stressed the brain sends signals to the body to cause action. When this happens day in day out with no physical release it can weaken the immune system, resulting in a higher chance of an allergic reaction. Try reducing stress through better sleep or mindfulness.

Breathing clean air

Whether you’re an allergy sufferer or not, it’s important to change the filters of your air conditioner every three months. If you’re not using an air conditioner and instead rely on opening the windows for fresh air, you may want to consider installing Pollen Guard screens, which offer better protection against pollen, dust and insects.

Stopping allergens at the front door

A doormat made of natural materials can break down and become a good environment for mites, mould and fungus, which then get tracked into the house. Use a synthetic one instead, and wash all mats weekly. Also clean dead insects from outdoor lights and window sills regularly, as when they decompose they become an allergen source. As for shoes, always remove them at your front door and encourage your guests to do the same.

Spring cleaning the house

When you’re suffering from allergies the last thing you feel like doing is cleaning the house. However removing dust, pollens and mould from the home can make a big difference to how you feel each day. It is important to not overdo it with sprays and chemical cleaners as allergies could be aggravated by the contents in these products. Stagger cleaning tasks, or if possible, hire someone to take care of the cleaning while you are out of the house to avoid exposure to toxins. 

At the very least tackle your bedroom, and give yourself a safe haven for days when pollen count is high. Additionally, make sure that your bedroom is a no-go zone for pets during the spring months.  

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All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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