12:06am Tuesday 21 January 2020

Hay fever sufferers on alert as pollen count set to soar

Professor Jo Douglass, one of Australia’s leading allergy experts from The Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne, said the national pollen count would provide botanists and allergy experts with an accurate indication of grass pollen levels in the air for all cities in Australia. 

Currently, pollen levels and the type of pollen are not reported Australia-wide.

“A national pollen count would help specialists provide a more accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment for people suffering from hay fever,” Professor Douglass said.

“The symptoms of hay fever can be as basic as sneezing, watery eyes, a runny or stuffy nose, itchy ears and nose and throat. But in some cases, the symptoms can be so severe that a person can’t sleep or concentrate, and may feel tired or unwell.

“However if your symptoms require medical treatment, it is best to see your doctor or pharmacist who may recommend a number of treatments including anti-histamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays or eye drops.” 

Associate Professor Ed Newbigin from the School of Botany at the University of Melbourne and director of the Melbourne Pollen Count said the pollen count service has been running for more than 20 years.

“The heavy and consistent rains this winter and spring have been ideal for grass growth. The grasses will soon begin to flower, which is bad news for people with allergies and asthma,” Associate Professor Newbigin said.

“During the peak periods of 1 October to 31 December, staff at the University of Melbourne’s School of Botany work with the Asthma Foundation of Victoria to count the grass pollen in the air at the same time each day, and produce a forecast of grass pollen levels for the next week.  This information is available at melbournepollen.com.au.

“Knowing each day’s grass pollen count can help ease suffering by warning people with grass pollen allergies to take the necessary precautions on days with high pollen count.”


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