Hayfever shame impacts lives


More than a fifth of hayfever sufferers say the condition leads them to disengage with social activities

James Nevile, Amcal senior pharmacist, is urging pharmacists and other health professionals to be very aware of the emotional toll severe hayfever can take on patients.

The call follows the release of new research by Amcal which found that more than 20% of hayfever sufferers admit the condition is making them disengage from participating in social activities with their loved ones, with many Australian hayfever sufferers (30%) citing embarrassment because of their persistent symptoms.

Half of all participants said that pollen was the main trigger for their symptoms, while almost a quarter (24%) said they did not know what their triggers were.

More than half – 61% – said their most common symptoms were eye irritation, a runny nose and sneezing.

“While most of us will happily step into this season [spring], our research shows that many feel socially isolated so it’s important to stay protected,” Mr Nevile says.

“More than one-fifth (21%) of sufferers admitted to intentionally skipping social events for fear of embarrassment or shame so we need to keep this condition top of mind.”

He said that the impact of hayfever also stretched to the workplace, with more than one-fifth of sufferers (21%) saying their symptoms are often worst when at work.

“This may be cause for concern, as more than one in five (23%) Australians admitted they cannot stand to be around people with persistent hayfever,” Mr Nevile says.

The research also drew attention to the unusual ways in which hayfever was contributing to daily stress levels: 13% of Australians admitted to having a car accident or near-miss while sneezing behind the wheel due to their condition.

Another 13% found their partner’s persistent sneezing, as a result of their hayfever, was causing high amounts of irritation and frustration.

Close to a third (30%) of all sufferers admitted to feeling like they have tried everything to relieve their symptoms but have not yet found an effective treatment, while a similar number (29%) also claimed their family and friends do not properly understand the extent to which hayfever impacts their lives.

Mr Nevile suggests that with a high proportion of sufferers still not having their condition managed well, there is an opportunity for pharmacies to engage sufferers who feel at a loss and are unable to find treatment that works for them.

“One third of those surveyed revealed that their hayfever symptoms make them feel unattractive, so Aussies are carrying around the weight of this condition with no real solution in sight,” Mr Nevile says.

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