Safety Message: Hay Fever
It’s that time of year. Where the eyes hurt, the sneezes start and antihistamine medication use is on the rise. Our WorkPac Safety and Risk Management Team have put together some information on hay fever and how to manage it during the summer season.
What is it?
Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as Hay Fever is an allergic reaction that affects large numbers of people every year. There are two main classifications. These are:
Seasonal: experience symptoms during spring and summer with the most common allergen to be pollen.
Perennial (all year round): experience symptoms all year around with the most common allergens to be dust mites, animals, moulds and dust.
Allergies are common. Your genes and environment may make you more prone to allergies.
Whether or not you are likely to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both your parents have allergies, you are likely to have allergies. The chance is greater if your mother has allergies.
How the allergy works?
The nose has very fine hair that acts like a biological dust mask which catches and filters particles that enter, trapping them. These either exit through sneezing or becoming trapped to mucous and going down the back of the throat. When you suffer hay fever the fine hairs in the nose become inflamed from the particles that are entering the nose. As a result the body will create chemicals called histamines which give you the symptoms.
Symptoms can vary in severity and type. Symptoms often occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to and may include:
Itchy or runny nose
Itchy mouth, eyes, throat, skin
Problems with smell
Watery (teary) eyes
For longer term reactions symptoms that may develop later include:
Decreased sense of smell
Puffy and dark circles under the eyes
Fatigue and irritability
Before undertaking any treatment it’s best to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment advice. Once confirmed that you have hay fever the best treatment is to avoid or reduce the exposure to the triggers. However where this is not possible, there are a number of treatment options that may be considered. Typically these can be either medication or desensitisation treatment. Examples include:
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays
- Desensitisation injections
Make sure you read the product information especially if you are driving or operating equipment and follow the advice of your pharmacist or doctor.