Hay fever and environmental allergies
Approximately 18% of people in Australia and New Zealand are affected by hay fever - which is also called "allergic rhinitis". The name hay fever is misleading since this condition has very little to do with hay or experiencing fevers!
What causes hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by having a sensitivity to environmental allergens such as animal hair, pollen, mould and dust mites. When the eyes or nose come into contact with these allergens it can produce symptoms such as:
- Itchy eyes or nose
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Blocked nose
Symptoms can be similar to other health conditions (such as food allergies or colds and flu) so it is important to exclude other possible causes with your health practitioner before diagnosis and treatment.
Hay fever symptoms vary from mild to severe and commonly appear in certain seasons but can be present all year depending on the presence of the allergen.
Should symptoms persist, day to day functioning can be affected by more chronic complaints such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, heaadaches, recurrent sinus/ear infections and asthma symptoms.
I think I have hay fever.. What do I do?
If you think that you may be experiencing hay fever symptoms talk to your health practitioner about your symptoms, treatment options and whether referral to an allergy specialist or allergy testing would be beneficial.
Further information is available on the ASCIA website: www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-testing
What is the treatment for hay fever?
There are many treatment options including minimising exposure to allergens (if known) and symptom relief medications, in many forms, including tablets, syrups, nasal sprays, eye drops and decongestants. Both your doctor and our pharmacists can advise you on the best options available for you.
There is also useful information on allergy treatments on the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Website www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-treatment