There are two common fevers associated with the onset of spring. There is spring fever -- which is basically “omg omg spring is here, puppies rainbows butterflies I’m so excited I’m going to buy a picnic basket.”
Then there is hay fever, which is more like “why can’t I stop sneezing argh my eyes are so itchy achoo! I want to die.”
So yes, they are quite different, and unfortunately, the latter is the focus of today’s article.
Hay fever. It’s the worst. And is it just us or is everyone copping it this year? Kleenex must be making a fortune.
Fact of the matter is -- it’s always around this time of year that hay fever rears its sneezy head, and it all has to do with pesky nature.
“Spring is when grass pollens tend to hit the air, as well as other plant pollens,” Dr Ronald McCoy of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners told The Huffington Post Australia.
“That’s why the classic time to get hay fever is in spring, particularly if it’s windy. It does vary between cities, but generally you’ll find it’s more common after a particularly strong wind or thunderstorms.”
Given the pollen count is on the rise (in Sydney, anyway), those who are typically affected best stock up on tissues.
So what is hay fever, anyway?
"Hay fever is an allergic reaction in the nose, where the inside lining of the nose becomes inflamed," McCoy said. "We call it allergic rhinitis."
"There are people out there who say, 'I'm allergic to this allergic to this and allergic to that,' but really an allergy provokes a very specific response in the immune system. With hay fever, you can get a lot of different things that can set off an immune response, but once the allergy is set off in the nose -- it's the same symptoms for everyone."
And the symptoms aren't great. According to McCoy, you can expect a running nose and itchy eyes at the very least.
"First of all, even though we call it hay fever, there is no fever," McCoy said. "Symptoms will include a running nose -- for some people it's like a tap -- very itchy watery eyes and sneezing."
"Some people who get the itchiness in their eyes also have it in their nose and throat, as it affects the mucus membranes. Others can get headaches because their sinuses get so blocked. It's so severe in some people, it can interfere with their ability to concentrate and to sleep. It can also trigger asthma."
Great. So basically, it's horrible. But what can people do to manage it?
"First of all, you should try to reduce the exposure to the allergen, in this case pollens," McCoy said. "There are websites which talk about pollen counts which can prove useful. If you can stay indoors on those days [where the pollen count will be high] that can help. The same goes for windy days in spring, especially after thunderstorms."
McCoy also recommends knowing what's in your garden to ensure it's allergy-free and suggests taking antihistamines to ease symptoms (after consulting a medical professional).
"A lot of the treatments are available over the counter. Antihistamines can help with sneezing and itching and you can get sprays for your nose. I'd avoid the decongestant ones, however, even though people find them helpful -- I find after a couple of days the nose gets used to them."
"Eye drops can be used if the itchy eyes are a particular problem, but if this is a recurring problem I would suggest getting a referral from a GP to see an allergist."
So there you have it folks. The wind is your enemy and the chemist is your friend.
One thing we would suggest is carrying some tissues wherever you go -- wiping your nose on your sleeve is never a good look. Even in spring.