What you can do to prevent and treat allergy symptoms

Tips on how to survive the allergy season:

The most common allergies in the spring are hay fever (pollen from e.g. ryegrass, canary, wild oat grass and casuarina trees) and moulds. Although dust mites are all year round, the ideal conditions for their growth are 25ºC and 75% relative humidity making the South Coast a perfect dwelling place.

Here are some suggestions to decrease exposure to allergens:

Wash sheets, mattress covers, pillow cases and curtains weekly in water hotter than 55C. This will kill dust mites and wash away the allergen they produce. Reduce dust mites by covering mattress, pillow and quilt with dust mite resistant covers. The covers must be washed every 2 months. If you cannot wash them in hot water, use a commercial product with essential oils formulated to kill dust mites in cold water. Tumble dry items for 10 minutes after normal washing will also kill dust mites.

Consider replacing carpets with hard floors. Use throw rugs instead as you can wash them.

Consider replacing heavy curtains with Venetian blinds or flat blinds as they are easier to clean. Expose mattresses to sunlight for several hours (but beware of high pollen count on the day)

Remove sheepskin or woollen underlays.

Remove all soft toys from the bed and bedroom. If this is not possible, wash them on a regular basis. If they are too big, freeze them in a plastic bag for 24-48 hours to kill the mites, but this will not remove allergens.

Leave your shoes at the door so you do not track outside allergens around the house.

Keep pet dander low by giving your pets a regular bath.

Use a damp or electrostatic cloth to clean hard surfaces weekly.

Clean your air by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the air. Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and vacuum weekly. Beware that the amount of house dust mite allergens in the air will increase for up to 20 minutes.

Although pollen is known to be blown long distances on windy days, most pollen is deposited within a short distance of its source. The peak pollen season is between late September and Christmas. Keep your windows shut during peak pollen periods. Pollen counts are usually highest between 6am and noon.

For some people eating a food that would not normally cause an allergic reaction can cause problems when another allergen such as pollen is present. This is known as the oral allergy syndrome. Most of the symptoms are limited to the mouth and throat. The proteins found in the food are also found in pollen leading to symptoms of pollen and food allergies. For example, if the allergen is ragweed pollen, consuming cucumber, banana, melon, watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin may trigger an allergic reaction. If the allergen is birch pollen, consuming apple, pear, cherry, peach, and plum may cause an allergic reaction. Plantain grass pollen is common and people may react if they consume melon, watermelon, tomato, orange and kiwi fruit. As the proteins responsible for this reaction are sensitive to heat and digestive enzymes, cooking the form or taking some Digestive Enzymes may help the person minimise the pollen-food syndrome.

Use a dehumidifier to decrease the level of indoor dust mite and mould. Avoid water cooled air conditioners as they release water into the air.

Wash hands and face frequently to stop contact with eyes, mouth and nose. Washing your hair at night washes out the allergens trapped in your hair from landing on your pillow and being inhaled while you are sleeping.

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