Spring is in the air by Dr Sarah Dalziel

One of the best things about living and working on Eastside is the close proximity to the forest. However, at this time of the year we know that spring has arrived as yellow pine pollen settles everywhere.

At Te Ngae Medical Centre we start to see an increasing number of patients suffering from allergy symptoms- hay fever, asthma and allergic conjunctivitis. Spring is the worst time of year for wind borne pollens, which tend to be more problematic than plants pollinated by insects or birds (such as plants with large, flamboyant flowers).

The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergens that trigger it- sometimes easier said than done!

So what can you do to help with pollen allergy?

Keep windows closed at night. Stay indoors on windy days and when the pollen count is high. You can check Metservice for a pollen count.

Minimise early morning activity when most pollen is usually emitted (between 5 and 10am).

Keep your car windows closed. Use the cars air conditioning system on recirculating cycle.

Wear glasses outdoors to protect your eyes.

Have lawns mowed frequently to avoid flowering. However, mowing stirs up pollens and moulds so avoid doing this yourself or if necessary wear a mask.

Have a shower after spending time outside as pollen can collect on skin and hair.

Select garden plants that are low pollen producers (usually native species), or plants that are pollinated by insects or birds. You may need to remove some plants from your garden if they trouble you.

Avoid hanging sheets and clothes outside to dry as they will collect pollen.

Discuss with your Doctor about allergy testing (usually skin prick testing) to find out which allergen may be triggering your symptoms. There is effective medication to help prevent your asthma or hay fever symptoms.