Spring has sprung and while the nights are certainly starting to get a lot warmer, those susceptible to Hayfever may have some sleepless nights ahead, with predictions 2017 will be the worst season on record.
Sadly there’s no “one size fits all” approach to treating Hayfever, which Better Health describes as an allergic reaction to environmental allergens and particles that get trapped, inflaming the super tiny hairs and mucus lining the nose.
Keeping this in mind, Triple M caught up with Dr Tony Bartone, the Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, who shared some of his best tips – and myths – surrounding the condition.
“Hayfever is an extremely common and sometimes extremely disabling condition for some members of our community. It’s important they have an effective and up to date plan to best manager their symptoms,” Dr Bartone told the Triple M.
“The symptoms may vary from simple sneezing to a runny nose, to quite an intractable amount of nasal congestion and interference with daily routine including sleeping patterns.”
Hayfever can strike at any moment
Dr Bartone says one of the biggest myths on Hayfever is that people are only ever affected during springtime.
“Hayfever can be all year round, it’s just we see a significant increase of hayfever symptoms around springtime because of the increase of pollens in the air and atmosphere,” he explained.
“It’s an important condition and it is a condition that needs to be managed effectively. It’s something you should talk to your doctor about so you have a plan that’s managed accordingly.
So what about the treatment options?
Treatment options will depend on the severity of your symptoms, but a GP may recommend intranasal corticosteroid spray, antihistamine medications, eye drops, decongestant nasal sprays or allergen immunotherapy.
“It’s important that treatment is tailored to the patient and the severity of their condition. For some, the inhalation of some medications effectively stabilises the nasal membrane, and stabilises the allergic process that’s occurring in the nasal lining and the respiratory passages leading off that,” says Dr Bartone.
“For some other people it’s much more significant, and there’s courses where you can desensitise, you can actually try to not respond accordingly in a preventative fashion.
“Depending on the severity of symptoms, and depending on the daily interference to your routine and daily lifestyle, you can target and have any number of different modalities that are matched to your situation and condition.”
How do treatments differ for pregnant women and children?
Dr Bartone says treatment options will vary on circumstances but assures there is “a course of treatment suitable for all different members of the community”, regardless of their background.
“It’s important to take a full medical history and to be very clear about any other current illnesses or chronic conditions that the patient may have,” he said.
“And that’s important to have a conversation with your treating practitioner and your current plan matches your level of severity and your level of exposure, and has reference to any other factors in the discussion.”
Is Hayfever life-threatening?
“Look it does need to be treated with respect,” said Dr Bartone.
“It’s important to have a conversation on your level of exposure and your level of susceptibility, both to being exposed to, and affected by environmental conditions right through to the changing weather patterns much like the episode of ‘thunderstorm asthma’ that occurred in the community in Melbourne last year.”
And are Aussies really facing the worst Hayfever season on record?
Dr Bartone says we have to put a pretty bold statement like that into content.
“With the increase in population density and the spreading of the suburbs to periphery, to more rural and regional borders of that community, we’re getting more exposure to the pollens and the grasses that are being blown by certain weather and environmental conditions,” he said.
“Of course we are a population that’s grown significantly and of course there’s going to be more people affected in that.
“There are so many factors that are involved, obviously the level of winter rain will depend of the level of grass and level of pollens in the neighbouring vicinity, these are all factors to take into account, it does vary from season to season, we do get troughs and peaks.
“For some people the condition respects no season from year to year differentiation, it’s a problem they need to chronically manage.”