Allergy season strikes early in Bundy

ITCHY eyes. Constant sneezing. It can mean only one thing.

Hay fever season has hit a little early in Bundaberg this year and doctors and pharmacists are bracing themselves for a busy period ahead.

Queensland University of Technology Associate Professor and hay fever expert Janet Davies said pharmaceutical sales of antihistamines had doubled in the 10 years to 2010.

"That suggests that there is an increase in hay fever and the effects of hay fever are being felt more," Dr Davies said.

"If you look at the frequency of people with allergic respiratory diseases in Australia that has plateaued to around 14%.

"That is very high and is about threemillion of the Australian population who suffer from allergic diseases."

Dr Davies said grass pollen was the one most people were exposed to including the sub-tropical grasses found in Queensland.

"In Queensland we have a later and longer pollen season of exposure," she said.

Dr Davies said people who moved to Queensland from interstate often spoke of how their symptoms had lessened - often referred to as the honeymoon period.

"That is because we have different kinds of grasses here and our immune system can tell the difference," she said.

"Ryegrass is common in most parts of southern Australia.

"But eventually the immune system catches up with us."

While allergy sufferers may have become used to their chronic condition Dr Davies said it could adversely impact your life.

"It can affect your performance at work and at school," she said.

"So I would advise people to not ignore the symptoms and seek help."

Bundaberg pharmacist Tanya Bowden said the early start meant allergy sufferers had already begun stocking up on antihistamines, nasal sprays and vitamins.

"We are heading into the high allergy season now so we will stay busy in that area," she said.

Mrs Bowden said there were a lot of -drowsy antihistamines available over the counter.

"Some of them are 24 hours and you only need to take one a day," she said.

"And nasal sprays are quite effective."

Mrs Bowden said the early symptoms of hay fever were similar to that of the common cold.

"But usually there is no temperature when suffering hay fever as opposed to a virus or infection," she said.

"You can still get sore throats but aches and pains are something we look at."

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