For most of us the onset of summer is a time to enjoy the great outdoors. For sufferers of hay fever it can be anything but. Hay fever, known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is a pollen allergy affecting millions of Australians every year. Symptoms are caused by the body's response to inhaling pollen, causing inflammation of the eyes and nasal passages. Common signs of hay fever include:

  • sneezing and a blocked, runny nose
  • sore, red and watery eyes
  • itchy ears, nose and throat
  • headaches, tiredness, difficulty sleeping or concentrating

Hay fever can have a serious effect on quality of life.
When pollen counts are high symptoms can be reduced by:

  • staying indoors and keeping doors and windows closed
  • avoiding high pollen areas such as grassy parks
  • not mowing grass and staying indoors when it is being mowed
  • wearing sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes
  • washing hair and eyes after being outside
  • keeping your garden free of plants that aggravate hay fever
  • not drying washing outside as pollen can get trapped in bed linen and clothes

Although hay fever can't be cured, it can be managed. Talk to your GP about how best to treat your allergy. Your pharmacist is also a valuable resource for what treatment options are available. Some well-known ones are:

  • antihistamine medications
  • decongestant treatments
  • steroid nasal sprays
  • eye drops
  • saline nasal drops

As well as medicines to treat hay fever, the following tips can also help reduce the impact of hay fever upon your day:

  • avoiding cigarette smoke
  • keeping your house as dust free as possible
  • vacuum instead of sweep
  • evaluating the destination and season when planning your next getaway - no one wants hay fever on holiday
  • eating well, reducing stress and getting enough sleep can all help boost your immune system thereby lessening the effects of allergens on your body
  • keeping track of the kinds of pollen you are allergic to, making notes of your symptoms and comparing this to a pollen calendar so you can be prepared
  • carrying your own survival kit with you: tissues, sunglasses, wet-wipes, water and any hay fever medications you might need
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