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Achoo Hay fever on rampage

By Teuila Fuatai

Dry, windy weather is causing major problems for Wairarapa hay fever victims.

Unichem South End Pharmacy manager Anne Wallace said at least 880 antihistamines had been sold at the Masterton pharmacy since December 1.

However, people seeking relief from itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing began filing in at the beginning of October, when the hay fever season kicked off, Mrs Wallace said.

The hay fever season, which normally ran until the end of summer but varied with weather, had been worse than last year.

"It can effect your sinuses and you can end up with a sinus infection, but we're all different and it affects us all differently," Mrs Wallace said.

Allergy specialist Allen Liang said symptoms caused a multitude of problems, and put you at risk of a road crash.

"If you sneeze a lot, it can be dangerous for the driver and the public as well because you are actually temporarily blinded when you sneeze," Dr Liang said.

Constant rubbing of itchy eyes can also damage the cornea.

Interactions with the opposite sex may also be threatened.

"For example, whenever somebody came near a highly fragrant female and started to sneeze their head off then they cannot kiss properly," Dr Liang said. It could also distract people from work and cause sleeplessness.

About 40 per cent of Kiwis are estimated to suffer from the condition, according to the Auckland Allergy Clinic.

Dr Liang said "hay fever" usually referred to a variety of allergens. Sufferers should see their GP and, if needed, a specialist to ease symptoms, he said.

Fees for a specialist consultation vary widely between practices, but most people should expect to pay around $300, Dr Liang said.

Hay fever Correct term: Allergic rhinitis.

Common symptoms: Runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing.

Caused by: Inflammation of Nasal passageways due to exposure to particles carried in the air.

Estimated to affect about 40 per cent of Kiwis

Two types: Seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis

Seasonal symptoms are only experienced during the spring and/or summer. Normally due to pollen allergies. Most people are referring to seasonal form when talking about hay fever.

Perennial symptoms are experienced year-round. Caused by allergens such as dust mite, animal dander and mould spores. Source: Auckland Allergy Clinic



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