01 October 2020
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As Hay Fever season officially begins, experts are encouraging hay fever and asthma sufferers to take their prevention mediation now, to avoid confusion between COVID-19 and hay fever symptoms.

Professor Jo Douglass, one of Australia’s leading allergy experts from The Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne said it’s critical that anyone suffering from hay fever or asthma start taking preventers now, with the pollen count expected to be high following a relatively wet end to winter.

What you need to know:

  • Hay fever is due to an allergy in the air, which can lead to a runny nose, itchy throat and eyes
  • Asthma symptoms can lead to a shortness of breath which can cause you to wheeze and cough
  • It’s recommended to use a nasal steroid or anti-histamine tablet as a preventative measure
  • It is critical to get tested for coronavirus if there your symptoms have not been treated with your hay fever or asthma medication
  • If you do need suffer from Hay Fever or asthma - and experience any of the above symptoms, you need to get tested

“We are very sensitive to the fact that some COVID symptoms appear to be mild but we really want to catch everyone who has COVID, so we really want people to prevent their hay fever symptoms by using treatments ahead of time,” Prof Douglass said.

While COVID-19 is at the forefront of many people’s minds, Professor Douglass is encouraging anyone with asthma to start taking their prevention immediately as this year comes with a high chance of a thunderstorm asthma event.

“Research shows that thunderstorm asthma events happen every five to seven years, so we are owed one and it will come, so we want to keep people safe particularly as we navigate through this pandemic and the best way to stay safe is take your preventers,” Prof Douglass said.

Grass pollen season officially begins on 1 October, bringing an increase in asthma and hay fever and the chance of thunderstorm asthma. Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma risk forecasting system will also be switched on and will run until the end of December.

The Melbourne Pollen App developed by the University of Melbourne in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has been pivotal in helping provide the public important information regarding the pollen count.

“You can get the Melbourne Pollen app, which is linked to the emergency services, which will warn you if there is any expected thunderstorm asthma events, and if so my advice is to stay inside with the windows closed, be sure to keep your prevention medication nearby,” Prof Douglass said.

To see Melbourne’s pollen count head to, https://www.melbournepollen.com.au/ - the app is also available via all app stores.

Thunderstorm asthma risk forecasts will be available from 1 October on the VicEmergency app and website at: emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare/#thunderstorm-asthma-forecast

For coronavirus updates or to find out where to get tested visit: dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

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