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Easy Breathing - Spring is in the air

As we wake from our winter slumber to fresh blue skies, the warmth of the sun and scent of freshly cut lawns, it's a sign that Spring is well and truly in the air.

However, the birth of spring brings the onset of hay fever season. To a large portion of the Australian population this means an arduous few months of runny noses, sneezing, itchy eyes, breathing issues, coughing and general discomfort. In the case to a smaller portion it will also mean breathing problems and the onset of asthmatic issues.

Hay fever or seasonal Allergic Rhinitis as it is medically termed, has it is medically termed, has its greatest impact on sufferers during the spring and early summer months in Australia.

Allergens are an airborne substance, which enters your body's airway by nose, mouth, throat and lungs when we breathe. The most common allergen that affects hay fever sufferers is pollen.

When pollen becomes airborne and enters your airway, it can cause our immune system to mistake it as a threat. Our body reacts by producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E to attack it followed by releasing chemical histamine which causes the symptoms to hay fever.

Pollen is a diaphanous or course powder like substance, which is produced by the anthers of seed bearing plants. Pollen transmits the cells (male germetes) that enable fertilisation of plants, so the plants may reproduce. There are two types of pollen:

Entomophilous Pollen – is collected and distributed by insects, which can result in the pollination process.

Anemophilous Pollen – is mostly associated with hay fever because it is carried by wind.

The seasonality of spring and pollen is not the only cause of allergies and the consequential hay fever symptoms. The other causes include animal hair and dander, dust mites and mould build up in the home.

There is a vast array of "over the counter" remedies to ease the discomfort of hay fever including nasal sprays, eye drops and medicines. Australians spend over $1 billion annually on medical treatment resulting from their allergies.

So is there a way to survive the hay fever season? There isn't much you can do to avoid being 'allergic' to allergens. However, there are a number of initiatives or steps you can take to prevent )or at the least, reduce) the symptoms of hay fever;

• Remedies such as medications, nasal sprays and eye drops may assist (however do seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist on these).

• Stay indoors on those windy days or during periods of high allergen counts in the air.

• Gently wash out your eyes to remove pollens.

• Keep your house and internal surfaces as clean as possible.

• Wear sunglasses and a hat when going outside (to prevent pollen blowing into your eyes).

• Consider planting a 'low allergen garden'.

• Avoid coming into contact with smoke or other similar irritants.

• Wash your pets regularly to reduce dander.

Hopefully these simple tips will help you be hay fever free in the coming months and leave you to enjoy everything that spring has to offer in Australia.

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 10:03
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