How are you managing your pollen allergies in a changing global climate?
Apr 5 2016:
Data shows that global warming has resulted in plants producing more pollen. The allergy season is lengthening as well as the prevalence and severity of symptoms for people suffering from allergic rhinitis caused by pollen allergy, commonly referred to as hay fever.
World Allergy Week
Allergic rhinitis is a common and debilitating disease, affecting more than 3 million Australians and New Zealanders. The prevalence of seasonal allergic rhinitis is higher in children and adolescents than in adults and there is a significant correlation between asthma and allergic rhinitis in school children.
Pollen allergy reduces quality of life by affecting the physical, psychological and social functioning. Signs and symptoms of pollen allergies include sneezing 5 to 10 times repeatedly, itchy and runny nose, very itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, shortness of breath and sinus pressure. There can also be fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, frustration, and lower energy levels. Symptoms of pollen allergy are associated with economic costs such as loss of work and school productivity.
An understanding that grass pollen allergens are different depending on climate and environment is coupled with a need for more effective tools for diagnosis, treatment, vaccine development and air monitoring.
Associate Professor Janet Davies, AIFA grant recipient in 2015, is leading research at the Queensland University of Technology that distinguishes between pollen allergens from temperate and subtropical grasses. Understanding the variability in grass pollen seasons across Australia's vast regions and between years is an important element of her team's research.
Grass pollens are a major cause of allergic rhinitis and a trigger for allergic asthma. Associate Professor Davies advocates forecasting based on grass growing and flowering times and weather factors.
"Australia is one of the few developed countries without a national pollen monitoring program. While we are a nation with one of the highest allergic rhinitis burdens, little is known about the timing and levels of exposure to airborne grass pollen across Australian cities."
Associate Professor Davies leads the Australian Pollen Allergen Partnership that aims to provide up-to-date pollen information and forecasts to patients and doctors in major cities. The project is supported by AIFA with co-sponsorship from partners Asthma Australia and Stallergenes Australia.
"It is important to have this information available. Allergic diseases in Australia have a high economic burden, costing $7.8 billion ear year, including $1.2 billion in direct medical expenses."
It is best for allergy sufferers to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Allergy specialists have the professional expertise to help pinpoint and confirm the allergies and advise on treatments and environmental control measures that can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Content updated 5 April 2016