Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Tips for managing hay fever this Spring

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

And just like that, Spring has sprung, which means for 3.1 million Australians it's hay fever season!

Medically known as allergic rhinitis, generally affecting the nose and throat, hay fever can also play havoc with the eyes, causing itching and swelling.  This is called allergic conjunctivitis.

Although more of a discomfort than an overall risk to vision, it’s still important to treat symptoms of hay fever to avoid damaging the surface of your eye or potentially introducing bacteria or viruses that may cause an infection.

What causes hay fever

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites and mould. On particularly breezy days, the wind picks up tiny particles of pollen and carries them through the air.

During Spring, there is more pollen in the air which is why hay fever peaks during this season, although it can occur year round.

With pollen circulating in the air, it causes issues for those who have allergies by triggering the immune system to go into survival mode. This leads to the release of histamines into the bloodstream, and depending on the individual, these histamine can cause reactions such as swollen, itchy or red eyes.

Common symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Swollen, blue-coloured skin under the eye
  • Frequent sneezing and a runny or blocked nose
  • An itchy throat, roof of mouth, nose or ears
  • Fatigue

Tips to manage hay fever and reduce the severity of symptoms

If you’re a victim of hay fever, it’s important to be aware of what triggers your hay fever and avoid these triggers where possible. There are also a couple steps you can take to reduce the severity of symptoms, such as:

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high, particularly in the morning
  • If you need to go outdoors, wear sunglasses or glasses and avoid rubbing your eyes
  • Keep doors and windows in your house closed in order to keep the irritating allergens out
  • Wash your hair after being outside to rinse the pollens away
  • Vacuum and mop your floors frequently to minimise pollens in your living space
  • Take your shoes off at the door to avoid trampling pollens throughout the house
  • Consider prescription eye drops to help relieve hay fever symptoms

Treating itchy eyes

As a first point of call, if you are experiencing eye irritation or changes to your vision it's important to visit your local optometrist for expert advice. Your optometrist will be able to assess and diagnose any itch, discomfort or irritation, and provide appropriate treatment to relieve it.

You can use our Find an Optometrist search function to find your local optometrist.

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