Written by: Melanie Wong
It’s September, the first month of spring, and we all know what that means: it’s the start of hay fever season. After a fairly mild winter, the flowers are truly in bloom. While Floriade looks a little different this year and our friends in Victoria can hopefully find a silver lining in minimising their allergies at home, Sydney is bracing for some sniffles, headaches and watery eyes.
In Australia, your hay fever luck will depend on location. For those of us in Sydney, hay fever is moderate in spring before heightening in summer. If you’re living in Perth, your hay fever season may be year-round.
What exactly is hay fever though? For those lucky enough not to know, it’s known as allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. Approximately 1 in 5 Australians suffer from hay fever in varying ways; despite its common name of seasonal allergies, hay fever doesn’t actually have to be seasonal. Plenty of people suffer from hay fever outside of the season of spring, though the pollen count does tend to be higher then. While hay fever can be something that mildly irritates some, it can also be a serious condition that causes fatigue, impacts on sleep and on people’s day-to-day lives.
If you’re one of the people who just have bad sneezing days every once in a while, the solution is simple (and generally effective). Antihistamines, such as Telfast, Zyrtec and Claratyne, can quickly fix your problem, but be careful to look at the labels – some can induce drowsiness. However, if you’ve got a more serious allergy problem, it’s important to communicate with healthcare professionals such as your GP and explore some other potential options, such as immunotherapy. This can prevent the development of your hay fever symptoms into more serious medical issues including asthma or sinus problems.
Some things to consider in order to limit hay fever include:
- Staying indoors during especially windy weather or before and after thunderstorms and wearing a face mask when going outside
- Monitoring the daily pollen count
- Rinsing your eyes with cold water or using over-the-counter eye drops to reduce puffiness
- Saltwater nasal sprays
Because of COVID-19, the circumstances are a little different. However, you may find that lockdown restrictions such as staying home and wearing masks may be beneficial for tackling hay fever problems. Additionally, the pandemic has made face masks a lot more accessible in Australia, especially the more-environmentally-friendly and fashionable fabric face masks that are reusable. TimeOut and Elle have provided two comprehensive lists of where to buy fabric face masks online.