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What’s causing my hayfever?
Posted by Naomi Policar, 17 October 2017
Allergies and hayfever affect around 50 million people in America and millions more around the world. It is estimated to affect 30 % percent of the world's population and is a leading cause of childhood health issues. Allergic reactions could cause coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and a scratchy throat. In more severe cases, it may cause rashes, hives, low blood pressure, asthma attacks, or even death.

In 1819, Doctor John Bostock introduced a case to the Medical and Chirurgical Society ‘Case of a periodical affection of the eyes and chest’. Which soon became known as Allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever. It is an allergy that is caused by pollen or dust where the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose are inflamed – causing runny noses and watery eyes. The presence of pollen in the air is not typically a life threatening occurrence however, Melbourne, Australia experienced a freak ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’ in November 2016 that resulted in 9 deaths. These were known to have been caused by extreme asthma attacks, yet strangely; “A survey by Asthma Australia of 2500 people who had an asthma attack that night showed only 58 per cent had a previous diagnosis of asthma. But 92 per cent shared a different common link.” (theaustralian.com)

The common link
Environmental Allergy research by Associate Professor Cenk Suphioglu of Deakin College showed that rye grass pollen is the common link that caused severe allergic asthma. Rye grass pollen is the dominant flowering grass in many areas of the world, and often associated with hayfever during the spring and summer months. In humid conditions and thunderstorms, however, warm updrafts of air can suck up intact pollen grains and the subsequent rupture of these grains can cause the release of enormous loads of allergenic protein into the air. This sudden increase in allergenic material can lead to severe asthma attacks, even in those not previously diagnosed.

What to do when you are affected
**For medical assistance and advice please seek your physician.**
For simple cases of hayfever, you can take anti-histamine tablets, use eye drops and nasal sprays.
There are a few different sprays that help in containing and decreasing the itchiness and congestion of the nose. Decongestant sprays (topical and systemic), Antihistamine Nasal Sprays and Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays.
There are also a number of different eye drops to help with the effects of hay fever (red and itchy eyes, swelling); antihistamine, steroid and non-steroidal eye drops.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing or shortness of breath, consider seeking medical advice, as this may be onset of asthma. You may also find it useful to monitor wheezing caused by asthma with the CliniCloud stethoscope and app. If there’s a concurrent temperature, you might be an infection (bronchitis, pneumonia) which may be causing the respiratory issues or exacerbating underlying asthma.

Sources:
http://www.aafa.org/page/allergy-facts.aspx
http://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/allergy-statistics
http://www.myhayfever.com.au/treatment
http://www.theage.com.au/good-weekend/thunderstorm-asthma-the-night-a-deadly-storm-took-melbournes-breath-away-20170308-gut8ur.html
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/deadly-trigger-could-thunderstorm-asthma-happen-again/news-story/5c6368fdc8af976b7d6af26a5c48962f
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