hay; fever; hayfever; allergy; asthma; pollen; rhinitis; eczema; asthma; allergen; antihistamine; pets;
Hay fever is triggered by breathing in, through the nose, something that the person is allergic to. Hay fever often happens at times of the year when the triggering substance, such as pollen, is in the air. It is very common and it seems to be becoming more common in Australia.
Hay fever is actually not a very good name for it, as the allergic reaction may be triggered by many different things - not just hay. Another name for 'hay' fever is 'seasonal allergic rhinitis'.
causes hay fever?
Around 60% of people who get hay fever have others in their family who get allergic diseases, such as hay fever, eczema or asthma.
Different things can trigger hay fever in different people.
- Common things which trigger hay fever (allergens) include:
- weed, grass or tree pollen
- cigarette smoke
- animal fur or dander (the tiny flakes of skin that come off and get into the air).
- House dust mite can also cause a runny nose (rhinitis), but this tends to be all the year round, not seasonal, so it is not 'hay fever'.
Hay fever tends to start during the teenage years. 20% of teenagers and young adults get hay fever, though some get it much more than other people.
A check by a doctor is important to be sure that the problem is hay fever. Symptoms that seem like hay fever may be caused by other problems, such as sinusitis.
of hay fever
- The effects of hay fever are:
- blocked, itchy nose
- runny nose - the fluid (mucus) can be clear or cloudy
- cough due to fluid running down the throat.
- Often the person will also have watery, itchy eyes, and darkened or puffy skin around the eyes.
- The everyday activities of people with hay fever are often affected because of tiredness (they don't sleep well) and difficulty concentrating.
- While people have hay fever, they often miss out on things others are doing, because they cannot go outside.
- People who have hay fever may also have an asthma attack triggered by the same things that triggered the hay fever.
can do about hay fever
- If the hay fever is mild, usually medicines called antihistamines are used (taken by mouth or from nose sprays), or if the hay fever is interfering with daily activities, preventive medicines (usually nose sprays) can be used.
- If the hay fever is very bad, and it is stopping you from doing many of the things that you like to do, your doctor may suggest skin testing to find the allergy triggers. This testing is done by a specialist. It may be helpful, but it does not always find the triggers.
- If you know what is triggering your hay fever then keep away from it, if at all possible.
- Avoid other triggers such as tobacco smoke.
do about pets
- If you have been shown to be sensitive to some animals, try to avoid getting close to those animals as much as possible.
- Keep pets out of the house, or at least out of your bedroom.
- Make sure pets are outside if they are moulting or being brushed.
- Wash your cat or dog weekly. If frequent washing causes them to have dry skin, see your vet.
- Clean out the pet's litter box regularly.
- The best pets for an allergic person might be ones that don't shed hair or dander, such as turtles, crabs, fish or reptiles eg. lizards.
- In South Australia, Asthma South Australia can provide more information about suitable pets.
What to do
- Keep windows and doors closed on windy, high pollen count days, eg. spring days.
- Stay indoors on days with a high pollen count in the air or when the lawn is being mowed.
- Try using a mask if you have to cut the lawn. You can buy paper masks quite cheaply from hardware stores.
- Use preventive medicines on 'high risk' days.
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).