Spring has sprung! And with it, Canberra’s pollen season

Released 03/09/2019

With the start of spring, Canberrans who find themselves wheezing and sneezing at this time of year are being reminded to speak to their GP about asthma and hay fever management.

Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said asthma and hay fever are significant health problems in the ACT, with 1 in 9 Canberrans suffering from asthma and 1 in 4 residents experiencing hay fever – the highest rate in Australia.

“After the long Canberra winter, the start of spring is an exciting time in our community, with people out and about enjoying the outdoors more,” Dr Coleman said.

“For many Canberrans though, we know the warmer weather can also bring with it a worsening of their symptoms due to an increase in grass and other pollens being present in the air,” Dr Coleman said.

“That’s why, the start of spring is a timely reminder to seek advice from a GP to update an existing or put in place a new management plan.”

CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman said this week (1-7 September) is also Asthma Week, putting a spotlight on asthma and ways to manage spring hay fever.

“This season can be a miserable time for many but fortunately there is plenty people can do to manage their asthma and hay fever this spring.

“People need to know that asthma is closely related to hay fever, so getting on top of hay fever is an important part of your asthma care.

“We encourage people to view our blog this week on helpful guides to support you through the season ahead,” says Ms Goldman.

Dr Coleman also said in extraordinary circumstances the combination of high grass pollen levels and a particular type of thunderstorm can severely affect people who are allergic to this type of pollen. People with hay fever and undiagnosed asthma are at particular risk, as they are not on any asthma medication. Known as thunderstorm asthma, it is a rare, but potentially life-threatening scenario when certain environmental factors are triggered.

“To help Canberrans monitor pollen levels, there is a free smartphone app available, providing users with real-time information on pollen and air quality,” Dr Coleman said.

“The AirRater app keeps community members informed of environmental risk factors that can contribute to their asthma or hay fever symptoms, so I encourage people to download it as a preventable measure for themselves and their loved ones, whose symptoms may be triggered during Spring.

“This year, the Health Directorate has also refreshed the air quality monitoring information available on our website to make it easier for Canberrans to understand.”

To view air quality information on the ACT Health website, visit: https://health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/environmental-monitoring

Download the free AirRater smartphone application at: https://airrater.org/

Visit the daily Canberra Pollen Count and Forecast Service at: http://www.canberrapollen.com.au

Further information is also available on the Asthma Australia website via: https://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au/nsw/home

- Statement ends -

Section: ACT Health Directorate | Media Releases

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