Hay Fever and Seasonal Allergies in Bloom
Published: 10 December 2020
Published: 10 December 2020
Seasonal allergies are expected to affect many Australians in spring. Allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) and asthma can be triggered by the increase of pollen in the air (ASCIA 2020).
Birds, bees and even the wind spread pollen grains over distances. Most allergy-causing pollen is airborne pollen from northern hemisphere grasses, trees and weeds. Interestingly, Australian native plants are less allergenic than some pasture grasses and exotic trees (ASCIA 2020).
Other than through exposure to pollen, allergic rhinitis symptoms can also be caused by dust mites, household pets and mould growth. (National Asthma Council Australia 2017).
Allergic rhinitis can inflame asthma symptoms and make them more difficult to control. A large majority of people with asthma (about 80%) have allergic rhinitis.
(ASCIA 2020; National Asthma Council Australia 2017)
Anyone who develops wheezing needs to promptly seek medical attention from a qualified medical doctor for assessment and treatment (ASCIA 2020).
Victoria’s south coast can get high pollen counts from the northerly winds, bringing pollen from the grasslands. Eastern Australia is somewhat protected from westerly winds by the Great Dividing Range (ASCIA 2020).
South Australia and Western Australia have varying pollen counts depending on the wind direction. Some of the grasses in southern Australian areas are grasses from the Northern Hemisphere that chiefly flower from October to December (ASCIA 2020).
From late July to early August, the White Cypress Pine flowers. This is the only Australian tree that creates 'highly allergenic' pollen (ASCIA 2020).
Wattle gets blamed for lots of Spring allergies, but skin prick tests rarely indicate that this is actually to blame. Lots of Casuarina and Australian Oak tree species lead to pollen-related year-round allergenic rhinitis – not just spring allergies (ASCIA 2020).
The National Asthma Council Australia (2017) also states that cigarette smoke should be avoided to prevent allergic rhinitis and asthma. Health professionals who do smoke should change their clothes before returning to work with clients and other staff members. Likewise, smoking areas should not be near entry points to the healthcare site.
Healthcare settings may consider implementing wind-barriers and incorporating low-allergenic plants into their gardens and landscaping.
The following treatment options should occur under the guidance of appropriate medical officers:
Patients should inform their health practitioner if they are pregnant when seeking treatment for allergic rhinitis and/or asthma (National Asthma Council Australia 2017).
Madeline Gilkes, CNS, RN, is a Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine. She focused her master of healthcare leadership research project on health coaching for long-term weight loss in obese adults. In recent years, Madeline has found a passion for preventative nursing, transitioning from leadership roles (CNS Gerontology & Education, Clinical Facilitator) in hospital settings to primary healthcare nursing. Madeline’s vision is to implement lifestyle medicine to prevent and treat chronic conditions. Her brief research proposal for her PhD application involves Lifestyle Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Madeline is working towards Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) status and primarily works in the role of Head of Nursing. Madeline’s philosophy focuses on using humanistic management, adult learning theories/evidence and self-efficacy theories and interventions to promote positive learning environments. In addition to her Master of Healthcare Leadership, Madeline has a Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education & Management, Graduate Certificate in Adult & Vocational Education, Graduate Certificate of Aged Care Nursing, and a Bachelor of Nursing. See Educator Profile