After-hours doctors have warned allergy sufferers to prepare as they predict a bumper spring allergy season, with Queensland’s recent dry weather leading to a high pollen count. House Call Doctor issued the warning to coincide with the start of spring.

House Call Doctor’s Dr Ryan Harvey said the drought meant large amounts of pollen could be carried long distances, as there was no moisture in the air to hold it in place. “These windy, dry days are creating a haven for pollen to circulate through the air, so it’s important to have an allergy plan in place,” he said. Dr Harvey said pollen allergies can affect sleep, performance at school or work, concentration, participation in sporting activities and even driving without a plan. “The symptoms of pollen allergies include difficulty breathing, a tight chest, watery eyes, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.”

Dr Harvey said approximately one in five people in Australia suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, and almost 80 per cent of people with asthma are also affected. “The good news is there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of having an allergic reaction,” he said. Dr Harvey suggested people stay indoors when possible if the pollen count is high. “Close any windows or doors and wear a dust mask if you’re heading outside. Also avoid activities like gardening or mowing which could induce an allergic reaction.”

Dr Harvey said there are a lot of products available to help relieve symptoms of a reaction, including over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestant medication. “For those who prefer nasal sprays, ensure you only use these for three to five days to avoid long-term effects – and if you have any concerns, make sure you visit your GP.”

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