Watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy throat announce the arrival of spring for many Australians.
Spring pollen from trees, grasses, or weeds is known to trigger the symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) across the country every year.
Pollen seasons often last for a few months, and it is hard to avoid the exposure, however, it is possible to reduce or prevent pollen allergy symptoms if we closely understand how it spreads, and the preventive measures that can be taken.
The Impact of Pollen and What To Expect This Year
La Niña is set to return and spread havoc during the Australian summer this year, with small invisible pollen grains creating chaos for asthmatics and allergy sufferers. It will be the first time in the last couple of decades that Australia will be experiencing La Niña for the third consecutive year, leading to wet conditions across the country for millions.
The weather event will be great for plants and vegetation, but it will also spike pollen production, and we can expect more airborne pollen, possibly in different varieties. What does this mean for allergy sufferers? The changes in pollen might lead to a larger reaction and can make your existing asthma condition worse.
According to rough estimates, one of every five Australians experiences hay fever every year when spring begins. Thunderstorms can also be a source of spreading pollen, which are common during the spring and summer seasons.
What Is Pollen and How Does It Spread?
Pollen is a grainy substance that plants produce to fertilise the female flower and reproduce plant species. Pollen grains are usually spread by insects (moths, butterflies and bees), birds, and wind.
Some flowering plants produce pollen in small amounts, and it is distributed by insects and birds to other plants. Plants such as pasture weeds and grasses produce large amounts of pollen and spread through the wind, triggering allergies in people.
Several highly allergenic pollen weeds have also been introduced to Australia over the years, including the Pellitory weed, Paterson’s Curse, Ragweed, and Parthenium weed.
What Triggers The Symptoms Of Pollen Allergies?
Seasonal allergies trigger an immune system response to innumerable pollen grains floating in the air during the spring season.
Our immune system mistakenly interprets pollen as a threat to our health and initiates an inflammatory response, causing annoying symptoms such as a runny nose, an itchy throat or itchy eyes.
Pollen Allergies May Trigger Asthma
Pollen can be a direct cause of triggering asthma and during the spring season when the pollen concentration in the air is high, you may end-up breathing pollen directly into your lungs, letting small particles penetrate deep into your lungs’ airways. Asthma symptoms include:
Chest pain or tightness
If you are experiencing these symptoms for the first time, ensure you see your GP for a diagnosis.
Pollen Allergies May Trigger Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever) Symptoms
Allergic Rhinitis or hay fever is caused by allergies to grass pollen, specifically. If you experience symptoms only in the pollen season, it will be seasonal allergic rhinitis. However, it may trigger anytime throughout the year. Pollen allergies can lead to the following hay fever symptoms:
Runny, congested, itchy nose
Itchy, irritable, red, and watery eyes
Itchy throat, ears, and palate.
If you have hay fever, you’re also likely to get sinus infections which can lead to interrupted sleep causing extreme tiredness.
Pollen Allergy Symptoms In Pets
If you have pets, it is worth noting that your pets may also suffer from pollen allergies during the spring season when the amount of airborne pollen will be the highest. Cat owners in particular must be aware of the pollen allergy symptoms in pets. While all pets can have pollen allergies, cats are at the highest risk of allergies.
While pollen allergies in felines usually manifest as itchiness, dermatitis, and skin allergies, asthma may look somewhat different in cats. They get persistent and chronic coughs, with many cat owners mistakenly believing it’s a hairball.
How To Manage Spring Pollen and Prevent Allergies?
While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, you can seek help to manage and ease your symptoms. You should consult with your general practitioner and have your symptoms diagnosed, and they will prescribe treatment to ease your symptoms.
Use Air Purifiers To Prevent Allergies This Spring
An air cleaner or air purifier is a device that helps remove air contaminants and improve indoor air quality in your rooms. These plug-in or portable units suck air indoors, filter it, and distribute clean air.
Tests conducted by manufacturers show that they effectively clean the air by removing particulates, including dust and pollen.
While there’s no conclusive evidence, based on research, the Environment Protection Agency says they can likely improve asthma or allergy symptoms.
To get the best results, always ensure that you choose an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter to clean the air. Besides, you should pay attention to its CADR (clean air delivery rate) rating.
Need recommendations? We have a couple for you from Vitrality Australia that are also approved by The National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice program:
This is an ideal choice for people with allergies or asthma as it comes with a medical-grade HEPA filter. The unit has also been independently tested and approved by the University of Melbourne and was singled out as the highest performing air purifier in its price range.
The AD-06 air purifier is a versatile, portable air purifier and deceptively powerful. It has a number of in-built features such as an in-built sleep timer and air quality indicator as well as a medical grade HEPA 13 filter.
The HEPA filter in both of these air purifiers will effectively remove dust, pollen, mould, and pet dander from the air, improving your indoor air quality.
Reduce Exposure To Pollen
Besides using air purifiers, you can manage spring pollen and prevent allergies by following some simple tips. Make sure you:
- Keep the windows closed when at home or in the car
Spend most of your day indoors, particularly on windy days in the pollen season
Stay indoors just before, after, and during thunderstorms
Carry tissues, wear sunglasses, and shower when you get back home
Don’t mow grass or wear a mask if it’s unavoidable
Avoid picnics in the parks in the pollen season
Plan holidays close to the ocean or wait until after the pollen season
Following these simple tips and using a quality air purifier indoors will help you avoid pollen allergies this spring. If you still trigger a reaction, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.