What is hay fever?

Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is an allergic reaction to pollen and grasses. Approximately one in five Australians experience hay fever with symptoms ranging from mildly irritating to severely impacting a person’s ability to live their daily life.  Hay fever can occur seasonally (in response to triggers such as certain flowers in bloom); this is know as seasonal allergic rhinitis.  In some cases, hay fever symptoms can occur year-round (e.g. in response to dust mites) and is known as perennial allergic rhinitis.



When is peak hay fever season?

Hay fever season peaks at different times throughout the country but is common in springtime as flowers bloom and more pollen is found in the air.


If you experience sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose at certain times of the year, there is a high chance that it is due to a specific pollen.


What causes hay fever symptoms to become worse?

Symptoms may worsen due to factors such as:

  • House dust mites found in bedding, carpets and furniture. Cleaning regularly and reducing humidity in the house will help their removal.

  • Pollens from trees, grasses, flowers and other plans produce pollens. Most pollen is found in the air between 6am to mid-afternoon. Staying inside when pollen counts are high is the best way to avoid pollen.

  • Fungi or mould can release spores and is commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens or damp areas. Remove with bleach, ensuring the house is well ventilated and remember to remove any damp carpets or rugs.

  • Allergens can be found in animal dander (dead skin flakes that are shed and often found in fur). Keeping animals out of bedrooms and living areas is recommended if you are triggered by pets.

  • Other common irritants include: smoke, pollution, wind, aerosol sprays, gases, certain odours, fumes, change in seasons and temperatures.


Common symptoms

Hay fever can often be mistaken for a cold, as some of the symptoms are quite similar including:

  • Sneezing

  • Runny, blocked or stuffy nose

  • Snoring

  • Headaches

 However, hay fever has some specific symptoms not usually experienced during a cold, such as:
  • Itchy ears, nose, skin, roof of mouth and throat

  • Itchy and watery eyes

Other symptoms:

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Tiredness

  • Poor concentration

  • Frequent throat pain

  • Recurring headaches

  • Lack of smell

  • Frequent ear infections – more common in children

  • Frequent sinus infections – more common in adults



Hay fever and Asthma

About 80% of people who have asthma also have hay fever. Hay fever can worsen symptoms of asthma, such as coughing and wheezing, and make it harder to control.  This may be due to increased breathing through the mouth (due to a blocked nose), meaning that pollen and other allergens are not filtered by the sinuses, reaching the lungs directly.  It is important for asthmatics who experience hay fever to keep symptoms under control to avoid asthma flare-ups.


To learn more about Asthma, read our blog here



Managing your hay fever and how we can help:

  • Chat to your Ramsay Pharmacist and they will be able to provide expert advice on how to best manage hay fever. Your Pharmacist will be able to assist you with medications, eye drops, nasal sprays and natural remedies if they are required.

  • Minimise exposure to pollen during peak periods, stay inside or keep doors and windows closed.

  • In your home, choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects.

  • Be conscious of your triggers and reduce your exposure.





Ramsay acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.


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