As the hay fever season ends in the northern hemisphere – it begins in the south
It’s spring time in Australia and as some rejoice at the improving temperatures, hay fever sufferers will be waiting, tissue in hand, for the pollen to hit.
There will be good news though for sufferers as the pollen season is set to be much milder than last years severe pollen season.
Low rainfall throughout autumn and winter in Sydney has meant grasses and trees will bloom later or not as much as last year, thereby reducing airborne pollen.
“This year’s pollen count is not going to be as severe as last year,” said Dr Connie Katelaris, head of the immunology and allergy unit at Campbelltown Hospital and professor at Western Sydney University.
“That’s not to say there won’t be some people with symptoms, but generally when the pollen count is lower, it is only those people who are heavily sensitised that will have a lot of discomfort.
“Those with milder allergies might escape having much of a problem this year.”
The spring outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast rainfall to be below average in south-west Australia, above average in parts of south-east Queensland, and a “roughly equal chance of being above or below average” elsewhere in the country.
High pressures in the south of Australia may favour increased rainfall on the east coast.
Dr Katelaris emphasised that a few weeks of rain could bring the allergy season back to full force.
Which state suffers the most?
One in five people suffer from allergic rhinitis, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The last snapshot of hayfever in Australia taken in 2014-15 reported the Australian Capital Territory had the highest rate of rhinitis followed by Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
The Northern Territory and Queensland had the least number of sufferers.
The main allergens along the eastern seaboard are dust mites, with pollen being the second cause of rhinitis symptoms.
“Dust mites are there most of the year round, so people with allergic rhinitis have a level of dust mite allergy that keeps them going all year,” Dr Katelaris said.
“Those that are unlucky enough to also be sensitised to pollen will find their symptoms ramp up over spring and summer over their baseline symptoms.”
Where is the pollen coming from?
The most common outdoor airborne allergen is grass pollen such as from ryegrass or Bermuda grasses which can be carried by the wind across long distances.
Dr Katelaris said pollen measured in Sydney had increasingly also come from trees.
“When we started down here [in Campbelltown], the pollen count tended to be higher, but as the land is being cleared and developed for medium-density housing, you’ve seen a change, less grass pollen,” she said.
“Sometimes you see more tree pollen as there are tree plantings in the parks and by the roadside.
“Some people are only allergic to the grasses, others have broad-based pollen allergies, so there may be one to two tree pollens they might react to, they might react to common weed pollens.
“Those people might be impacted over a longer period over the season.”
Start prevention strategies now
It is hugely important not to wait until the pollen season hits and you are not prepared. Make sure you are watching the pollen forecast every day.
The app also provides links to pollen forecasting sites in Australia & around the world.
Use of new, drug-free, products such as nasal filters can block 98% of pollen particles entering the nose.
While OTC nasal sprays or salt water rinses can clear the nose of pollen particles and make you feel much better.
Asthma attacks 2016
After the death of 8 people from severe asthma attacks in Australia in 2016 – it is crucial that people that suffer from hay fever significantly should seek medical advise as the two conditions are very closely linked.
In 2016 a high pollen level, combined with a thunderstorm, caused the death of 8 people who had asthma.
Extracts taken from original article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-01/mild-hayfever-season-expected-in-2017/8859838