Why is my hay fever getting worse?

If you’re unfortunate enough to experience hay fever, then allergy season can feel like a very unpleasant time of the year. Try as one might to avoid allergy triggers there are always going to be challenges in minimising symptoms.

Environmental factors

Climate change and its effect on plant pollination have been noted to aggravate the hay fever season. Warmer temperatures mean more pollen production and plant pollen is considered the main airborne allergen responsible for allergic reactions. People living in urban areas tend to experience more respiratory allergies than rural residents with studies suggesting that chemical compounds from air pollutants are the aggravating factors.

Considering these climate change and pollution factors and their interactions, allergy seasons could be getting worse and extended well beyond their usual duration.

The asthma-allergy connection

Pollen can also play havoc for asthmatics too, not just for those with hay fever. The incidence of Asthma and allergic diseases have risen in recent decades and continues to do so.

Pollen and other allergens can initiate inflammation in the nose and sinuses. This reaction involves the production of tissue-generated inflammatory chemicals which invariably find their way into the bloodstream and so reach the tissues of the lungs where a similar reaction is then started.

What then follows are the symptoms of asthma whereby breathing becomes more difficult.

Other than avoiding going outside when pollen counts are high and taking precautions to reduce the times of exposure, what else can you do?

Steps to help reduce hay fever symptoms

  1. Regularly change or clean your air conditioning filters and consider using a HEPA air filter to reduce the level of allergens inside the home.
  2. On days with high pollen counts, change clothes when coming indoors, better still, have a shower.
  3. Ensure windows and doors are closed to reduce pollen entering the home environment.
  4. Keep pets inside as pollen may stick to their fur and be brought indoors too.
  5. Always wash or rinse the nose to get rid of inhaled allergens and pollen. Make it a daily habit like brushing your teeth. Nasal and sinus rinsing reduces the allergic reaction in the nose and helps to remove pollen, irritants, and excess mucus.
  6. After cleansing the nose and sinuses, over-the-counter allergy medicines can be very useful to relieve symptoms. Antihistamine nasal sprays to relieve an itchy nose and sneezing. If you have been advised to use a medicated nasal spray, like a corticosteroid nasal spray, you should start using it about 3-4 weeks before the hay fever season begins and then every day until the season stops and pollen counts drop significantly.
  7. Most importantly, if allergy symptoms are severe and/or continue over a long time, you should discuss your symptoms with your Doctor or Pharmacist. Asthma Australia is also a valuable free resource available. Expert advice is available via their hotline and is completely free of charge.

If you would like to understand more about more measures that can help, then please take the time to watch this short video from our partners Asthma Australia:

References: Sedghy F et al. Interaction Between Air Pollutants and Pollen Grains: The Role on the Rising Trend in Allergy. Reports of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. 2018; Vol.6, No.2.