Spring is a welcome relief for many in Melbourne after a long Winter! With the arrival of Spring however often begins the less than pleasant side of the season – Hay Fever allergies. Cases of Hay Fever range in severity, from mild to more serious symptoms. As a result, appropriate treatment methods vary. Effective Hayfever management plans may include professional medical assessment and medication, combined with self care techniques, including the identification and control of triggering allergens, regular exercise, self massage and stretches.
What is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever, or Allergic Rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to a substance, usually airborne particles. Common Hay Fever triggers include: pollen, grass, trees, animal fur, mould and dust particles. As such, Spring is commonly a difficult time for those with Hay Fever symptoms however Hay Fever related allergies can occur at any time of year. Some individuals only experience allergies due to a specific trigger, while others may have reactions to a variety of sources. Due to the varying nature of Hay Fever causes, the severity of individual cases varies significantly; from mild sneezing to more serious respiratory (breathing) difficulties. Whilst causes of Hay fever related allergies are often related to environmental and/or biological (genetic) factors, they can often be difficult to determine, and are therefore best addressed by a medical professional.
Physical Symptoms Of Hayfever
Common physical symptoms of Hay Fever include:
- Runny nose
- Watery and/or itchy eyes
- Sinus headaches
Hay Fever V.S Asthma
Less common symptoms of more serious Hay Fever related allergic reactions include breathing difficulties. Individuals more susceptible to this condition are typically those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, including seasonal asthma. Those with seasonal asthma, usually experience an onset of breathing related difficulties annually from Spring.
Symptoms of Hay Fever related asthma and/or seasonal asthma may include:
- Shortness of breath
Medical professionals emphasise the importance of understanding both the link and differences between Hay Fever related allergies and asthma. In particular, medical researchers advise against confusing Hay Fever symptoms with other serious conditions including asthma, and illnesses including colds or flu – and to organise a medical assessment when in doubt. Effective management options for seasonal asthma may include medicated inhalers, relievers (puffers) and the avoidance of the outdoors on particularly windy or stormy days (Thunderstorm Asthma).
Managing Hay Fever
Effectively managing Hay Fever symptoms is highly important. Adequate treatment options vary depending on individual cases, and the severity of symptoms. Many over-the- counter antihistamine medications which reduce the majority of inflammation related physical symptoms of Hayfever (such as itchy eyes and running nose) are commonly available at pharmacys. These include oral tablets and medicated nasal sprays. It is vital to organise a consultation with a medical professional to determine the most effective treatment option for your symptoms.
If you’re experiencing Hay Fever symptoms, it is highly important to assess the environmental conditions and potential triggering factors at home and work. Of particular importance to note are any recent changes, introduction of foreign materials or aggravating factors such as a new pet, furniture, or use of chemicals, perfumed laundry liquid, aerosols and/or plants – particularly those with pollen. The successful identification and elimination and/or control of these factors (e.g reduced exposure) may assist in the reduced severity of Hay Fever related symptoms.
Exercise: Breath and Body
In addition to professional medical assessment, there are many simple treatment options that can be utilized at home. Mindful breathwork and meditation for example, has been demonstrated to be highly effective in reducing congestion, sleeplessness; stress and tension often related to breathing problems associated with Hay Fever related allergies.
Yoga and Pilates
Effective body movement exercise including yoga and Pilates can also be incorporated safely from home. In fact, the benefits of exercise include strengthening the muscular and respiratory systems. Exercise also increases overall flexibility and increases blood circulation to smooth muscle tissue (fascia), whilst assisting the removal of waste products via the lymphatic system.
Exercise has also been demonstrated to support overall health, including the immune system. Gentle cardiovascular exercise, with effective management of respiratory and allergy related conditions (asthma and Hay Fever) is also advised to strengthen the cardiovascular system. \
Self Care and Massage
Simple self massage techniques are not only useful for reducing stress, they also assist in the reduction of tension associated with Hay Fever, including sinus congestion and headaches. Common areas that hold tension due to Hay Fever symptoms such as blocked sinuses include the forehead, nose, cheeks, eyes and the lymph nodes surrounding the skull, jaw and neck.
Self massage techniques, including the application of gentle pressure with the fingertips in circular movements around these areas, including and neck and shoulders, can therefore assist in the reduction of tension associated with Hay Fever symptoms. Other methods including warm compresses and steam present in showers, steam baths, air purifiers and humidifiers are also demonstrated to assist in the reduction of common airborne related Hay Fever symptoms.
Stretches | Managing Hay Fever
Medical professionals commonly advise the incorporation of gentle stretches to encourage increased blood circulation, reduced muscular tension and the reduction of lymphatic waste products. This is particularly important in cases of inflammatory conditions such as Hay Fever. Effective stretches to reduce Hay Fever related upper thoracic tension include targeted neck stretches and full body movement stretches such as Cat Cow (see online stretch library).
Hydration and Rest | Managing Hay Fever
The body’s reaction to allergens floods the body with stress hormones associated with inflammation. This creates sustained stress whilst combating allergic reactions. As such, it is highly important to prioritise adequate nutrition for energy production, water intake to support all physical systems – and sleep. In fact, sleep is stated to be one of the most important elements of health, as we recover and heal three times faster during sleep than in waking hours!
For further information regarding Hay Fever, including effective preparation and pollen count forecasting, see The University of Melbourne’s website: https://www.melbournepollen.com.au/ or phone app: https://www.melbournepollen.com.au/mobile-app/
Melbourne Medical Telehealth Consultations:
Professional online Telehealth medical consultations are available at Southgate Medical Clinic: https://southgatemedical.com.au/telehealth/
Beyond Blue Support
If you would like to access confidential mental health support during this time, Beyond Blue can be reached online: www.beyondblue.org.au or by phone: 1300 224 636
For further information regarding self care options, including free 15 minute Telehealth consultations, please contact us via email or book online. Access to free online resources including our stretch and exercise video library, can also be found online.
Managing Hay Fever
Remedial Massage Melbourne