Are you a Health Professional? Jump over to the doctors only platform. Click Here

Allergies: Spring time allergies and year round allergies

Young woman sneezing
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Allergy and the body

What is an allergy?

AllergiesAllergies are the immune system’s incorrect response to allergens (foreign substances). Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance causes the immune system to react as if the substance is harmful. People may experience a number of allergic symptoms including itchy, watery nose and eyes, asthma symptoms, eczema or hives and allergic shock (also called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock).

For more information, see Allergy.

The immune system

Allergy and the immune systemThe immune system has the very important role of protecting us from infection. Most of the time, the immune system functions well, with an immune response directed against a potentially harmful organism (such as a bacterium or virus). But in some people, the immune system attacks a harmless substance, which can lead to damage to human tissues.

For more information, see Allergy and the Immune System.

Anatomy and physiology of the nasal cavity and mucosa

Perennial allergies imageThe nasal cavity refers to the interior of the nose, or the structure which opens exteriorly at the nostrils. It is the entry point for inspired air and the first of a series of structures which form the respiratory system. The cavity is entirely lined by the nasal mucosa, one of the anatomical structures (others include skin, body encasements like the skull and non-nasal mucosa such as those of the vagina and bowel) which form the physical barriers of the body’s immune system.

For more information, see Anatomy and Physiology of the Nasal Cavity and Mucosa.

Spring allergies

Video: Allergies

Allergy videoAllergies can effect people all year round, but springtime is when they’re most likely to occur. Dr Joe Kosterich talks about springtime allergies, including what causes them, why you get them in spring, and what to do to help prevent or treat them.

Watch the video Allergies.

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis

Simple allergic conjunctivitisConjunctivitis is a very common reason for an individual to experience an uncomfortable, red eye. There are a number of distinct origins for conjunctivitis, including bacteria, viruses and, importantly, allergies. Some people are susceptible to seasonal allergic conjunctivitis in spring, a time when there are many airborne grass pollens.

For more information, see Simple Allergic Conjunctivitis.

Hayfever (seasonal allergic rhinitis)

HayfeverSeasonal rhinitis or hayfever, is characterised by irritation and congestion or watering of the nose, itchy eyes, ears and throat, and sneezing. It occurs due to an exaggerated response to an environmental trigger which results in inflammation of the lining of the nose. Pollen is the most common trigger, hence symptoms are usually experienced during the spring and summer months when the pollen season is at its peak.

For more information, see Hayfever (Seasonal Rhinitis).

Why is hayfever (Allergic Rhinitis) such a problem in Australia?

Yellow rapeseed with blue sky.Allergic rhinitis (hayfever) is a condition that affects as many as 1 in 4 Australians. More and more people are becoming affected by this condition and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life especially if it is underdiagnosed and undertreated. There are a number of treatment options available to relieve the symptoms of hayfever.

For more information, see Why is hayfever (Allergic Rhinitis) such a problem in Australia?


Perennial allergies

Perennial allergic rhinitis

Perennial allergies imageAllergic rhinitis is an allergic disease which affects many people worldwide. Rhinitis is the ‘inflammation of the nasal mucosa’, whilst the term allergic describes ‘a normal but exaggerated response to a substance’. It may be perennial, which means symptoms are present throughout the year.

For more information, see Perennial Allergic Rhinitis.


Prevention and treatment

Video: Treating hayfever

Video: Treating hayfeverAssociate Professor Frank Thien talks about the association between hayfever and asthma, how to diagnose hayfever, and how to treat it.

Watch a video about Hayfever.

How to prevent allergies

Preventing allergiesA lot of research over recent years has focussed on the prevention of the development of allergies in children as the number of people with allergic diseases has risen dramatically over the last century, with the prevalence of asthma doubling between 1970 to 1990 in Australia, New Zealand, United States and much of Europe.

For more information, see Preventing Allergies.

How to avoid suffering from allergies

AllergiesOnce you are allergic to a substance, the best way to treat it is to avoid what you are allergic to. This will alleviate symptoms if you are able to avoid the allergen. It is important to first identify what you are allergic to, which is best done by skin-prick tests (or RAST if skin-prick tests cannot be performed).

For more information, see Allergen Avoidance.

Glucocorticosteroids for the treatment of respiratory conditions

Asthma imageGlucocorticosteroids, also called glucocorticoids or corticosteroids, are a type of steroid hormone which exert anti-inflammatory actions, that is; they stop inflammation in the body.Glucocorticoids can be used for treatment of asthma, treatment of hayfever as well as treatment of allergy in general.

For more information, see Respiratory Uses for Glucocorticosteroids.

Benefits of second generation antihistamines

Happy girl with closed eyes smelling a flowerSecond generation antihistamines are a group of medicines that relieve the symptoms of histamine-related allergic conditions, particularly hives (urticaria) and hayfever (allergic rhinitis). They are considered improved versions of first generation antihistamines because they are less likely to cause adverse effects on the heart, central nervous system and other organs.

For more information, see Benefits of second generation antihistamines.


Patient experience

Bec says goodbye and good riddance to allergies

AllergiesNow that Rebecca is older, her friends know her as ‘Bec’, but when she was younger, her classmates just knew her as the girl with the runny nose. Bec has successfully overcome the annoying and often embarrassing affliction of allergies and now wants to pass on her experience to let others know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For more information, see Patient Experience: Bec Says Goodbye and Good Riddance to Allergies.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Posted On: 25 June, 2012
Modified On: 17 August, 2017


Created by: myVMC