What you've told us about hay fever in Melbourne

Dec. 18, 2014

What did this year look like?

The 2014 grass pollen season is coming to an end and as usual we’ll be finishing the count on December 31. As we predicted earlier it’s been one of our milder seasons with so far just under 1,100 grass pollen grains caught in our trap. That’s an average of about 12 grass pollen grains per day, a number that sits comfortably in our low range. There's also only been two days this season when the count has got into the high range – these are days when most people with a grass pollen allergy will experience symptoms. Last year was a more typical year for Melbourne with a total of 15 days when grass pollen levels were in the high or extreme range.

Since 2013 you’ve been able to tell us through our app about your daily hay fever symptoms. To date we’ve received an amazing 20,000 survey responses from 4,600 different people. This experiment in ‘citizen science’ has provided us with a fantastic and quite unique insight into hay fever in Melbourne and how it relates to what we do, which is count grass pollen.

It's been satisfying to see that the average daily score for hay fever symptoms closely tracks our daily grass pollen count. We'll be talking a lot more about this relationship down the track. But having now nearly two season's worth of survey data means that we can also start comparing seasons in terms of symptoms, which is what we're showing in today’s pie charts. The chart on the left shows last season and the one on the right the current season. Each season is broken down into the percentage of low symptom days (a score less than two out of five on the app), mild symptoms (less than three out of five) and moderate to severe (a score of three and above).

As I’ve said, last season was a fairly typical one for Melbourne and on 18% of days you rated your symptoms as either moderate or severe. This season was clearly much milder for hay fever sufferers with only 9% of days receiving this rating. This season also saw a corresponding increase in low symptom days, from 55% in 2013 to 62% in 2014. Please keep those survey responses rolling in as they help us enormously to improve this service.

The main types of pollen around at the moment are the weeds plantain and pellitory.

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