The impact of hayfever on quality of life is often underestimated, says one expert.
Dr Mimi Tang, allergy specialist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, told the AJP that even people who suffer from allergic rhinitis may underestimate how badly the symptoms affect their daily living.
“Studies have shown that hayfever can have the same impact on quality of life as moderate to severe asthma,” Dr Tang says.
“In children, it affects concentration, learning and impairs the quality of sleep. Having hayfever symptoms at the time of final exams in year 12 has been shown to result in a drop in the grade score achieved compared with practice exams taken when there are no hayfever symptoms.
“In adults, reduced concentration, loss of sleep can result in poor work performance and even accidents at work.”
Allergic rhinitis’ link with asthma is also often underestimated, she says, with many people not understanding that they are closely related.
“The lining of the nasal passages is continuous with the airways and poorly controlled hayfever has been shown to cause asthma to be more severe.
“Conversely, it is difficult to have optimal control of asthma unless any associated hayfever is also controlled.
“The majority of people with asthma also have hayfever; and in these patients, its important to treat both conditions in order to have good asthma control.
“This is particularly important for people who also have food allergy because poorly controlled asthma is a major risk factor for life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions to food and also for a fatal reaction to food.”
She says that the symptoms of hayfever are often missed by the patient, particularly once they become more severe or chronic – when congestion becomes the main issue.
“Many patients with significant congestion ignore their blocked noses and accept the sniffing.
“Pharmacists can look out for mouth breathing and allergic shiners (swelling under the eyes), and can recommend a topical nasal corticosteroid if there is congestion. Antihistamines do not target congestion.”
Dr Tang’s comments come as GSK launches a new national health campaign called Hay Fever Help, featuring popular lifestyle and media commentator and ambassador Shelly Horton (below) and allergy experts.
The campaign will encourage people to visit www.HayFeverHelp.com.au to check the pollen count as well as seek advice from their doctor about hayfever.