Scope: Pollen is an important substance, but can cause problems for those with allergies

SCOPE: Pollen is an important substance, but can cause problems for those with allergies

Pollen is an important substance produced by plants, but it can also cause problems for those of us who have allergies. Dr Ed Newbigin is a botanist from The University of Melbourne and he steps through the process of establishing a daily pollen count.


Pollen count record high

Pollen count levels are predicted to hit a record high this spring, as millions of hayfever sufferers stock up on tissues, pills and nasal sprays.

According to Professor Connie Katelaris from New South Wales Health it's difficult to completely avoid allergens.

However Professor Katelaris says there are practical measure that can be taken to lessen the impact of the symptoms.

Some simple tips for hayfever sufferers on how to reduce symptoms:

  1. If you're a gardener, plant a low-allergy garden close to your home
  2. Pillowslips can gather pollen all day, so dry them indoors
  3. Pets' coats can also collect pollen, so where possible keep them indoors
  4. Shower before you go to bed to wash the pollen from your hair
  5. If you're heading out, make sure you wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes

Professor Katelaris says there is a new pain-free form of immunotherapy for chronic sufferers that could help relieve symptoms.

"Immunotherapy works by changing a person's immune response, it changes an allergic response to a more pro-active response. So it's like a vaccination," Professor Katelaris said.

"New forms of therapy are perhaps just around the corner as we improve the forms of immunotherapy, making it more effective without needing to be on it for as long a period of time."

Dr John D'Arcy says it's best for sufferers to start on non-sedating antihistamines, as they tone down the immune response.

"If antihistamines don't work, try a prescription-only steroid spray. It can actually stop the immune reaction starting in the first place," Dr D'Arcy said.

"Saline is also a terrific treatment. A saline nasal spray is cheap and effective, with absolutely no side effects."

Hay fever sufferers on high alert

Allergy sufferers are being warned to prepare early for what is expected to be one of the worst hay fever seasons on record, Karen O'Sullivan reports.

Melbourne pollen count up and running for 2013


Melbourne Pollen Sept 29 2013

Welcome back to the Melbourne pollen count.  Been a wet winter and the spring's has so far been wet and warm as well, all good signs for grass growth.  But maybe not so good if you're allergic to grass pollen.  Here's a shot from today's slide.  We're still in the tree pollen season and expecting tomorrow will be a low pollen day.

No grass pollen today

Melbourne Pollen Sept 4 2013d

There's a prediction doing the rounds, not one of ours, that today is a high/extreme pollen day in Melbourne. So we thought we'd have a look to see what's about at the moment.  We expected to see tree pollen and that's what we found.  Europeans like elm and birch, some wattle (last Sunday was Wattle Day after all), pine and our old friend cypress.  Plenty of it (counts in the hundreds) but that's not unusual for this time of year.  The Melbourne pollen calendar published by Ong et al (1995) also shows tree pollen counts in the hundreds for September.  Our forecasts are for grass pollen, Melbourne's major source of outdoor allergies, and there was no grass pollen on the slide so today is a low grass pollen day.  We're not expecting to see much grass pollen until sometime in October but we'll keep a watch out for it.  If you're sneezing today it may be because you have an allergy to tree pollen.