July 24, 2018

Your allergies and lung disease

Spring is around the corner. It’s warming up, the days are getting longer and the flowers are blooming. It is also a common time when people have allergies, in particular sneezing more often, a runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes.

Nearly 1 in 5 Australians suffers from allergic rhinitis1. This happens when your body’s immune system becomes confused, mistaking something it is exposed to every day for an infection. When this happens, the trigger is called an allergen2. Your immune system mistakenly targets the allergen, giving you an allergic reaction which involves producing a lot of antibodies to fight off the ‘infection’1.

The next time you come into contact with the allergen, your body remembers, and produces more antibodies making your immune system release chemicals that trigger your allergic reaction1. If you have a chronic lung condition your symptoms are likely to worsen. If you experience allergies, below are some tips for coping with and controlling the symptoms or triggers:

  • If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or asthma, stick to your Action Plan – take your medication including your inhalers as prescribed
  • Be aware of what triggers your allergy and when it is likely to be a problem
  • Find out from your health professional the medication which may help you best, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays
  • Wash your clothes and hair more regularly to help get rid of the pollens
  • Keep your home clean and use a damp duster to stop pollens moving around your home
  • Keep your windows shut both at home and in the car
  • Avoid open and grassy spaces.

We hope you find these tips useful in reducing the symptoms and impact of allergies. If you experience any symptoms, speak to your health professional.

1 AIHW, 2016, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/asthma-other-chronic-respiratory-conditions/allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever/contents/allergic-rhinitis-by-the-numbers
2 British Lung Foundation, 2015, https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/your-home-and-your-lungs/causes