Hay fever sufferers may be in for more grief

Hay fever sufferers are making a beeline to the nearest pharmacy as exceptional seasonal grass growth starts to take its toll.

Unfortunately, their suffering may not be over any time soon.

Pollen forecaster Dr David Fountain said pollen production was likely to be greater  and last longer this summer because of the higher than usual rainfall in spring.

The colder, wetter spring delayed grass growth, meaning the main pollen season did not start until later in the year, Dr Fountain said.

As the weather warmed,  grasses and weeds such as plantains, nettles and sorrel — which are all major pollen contributors — flourished.

While many of the grasses would have started or had already  gone to seed, there were still some grass species which pollinated into early February and hay fever symptoms would continue in some people as a result. For one Dunedin sufferer the past month has been almost unbearable.

At first Shannon Mckee, who had never  been afflicted by the seasonal allergy before, only had a bit of a runny nose and itchy eyes.

Eventually her symptoms became so bad she developed allergic conjunctivitis and had to take time off work.

"It’s a real bummer during the summertime for me as I’m a student as well."

It seems she is not the only one.

Urgent Pharmacy pharmacist Daniel Hanjo said he had noticed the severity of the symptoms people were presenting with at the pharmacy were worse than last year.

Hay fever could be difficult to treat as sufferers each had different reactions  to pollen, he said.

"We have been doing a lot of prescriptions as well as over-the-counter stuff, making sure people get the right treatments."

Health Care Pharmacy Mosgiel pharmacist Ben Pu said there had been a steady flow of customers wanting antihistamines but it did not seem to be any different from previous years.

However, it did seem like the severity of the symptoms was increasing, he said.

He had stocked up on nasal sprays, antihistamines and other treatments before spring to ensure there was enough stock to last through until February and March.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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