“South Africa has experienced one of its wettest winters of late and usually after a rainy pre-season like the one we just had, followed by sufficient sunlight, there is an exponential increase of pollen in the air, which creates a perfect storm for hayfever,” spokeswoman Mariska van Aswegen said in a statement.
Seasonal allergies such as hayfever were usually triggered by pollen that originated mainly from grass, but could also stem from trees, grasses, or weeds.
Although the grass species usually staggered pollen release throughout the year, the cold weather seasons caused grass to release pollen “earlier and more forcefully”, said Van Aswegen.
“As a result of heavy winter rains, aerobiologists predict a bumper grass pollen season which is likely to peak in October and taper off in December.”
“Experts say it will only take a few sunny, breezy days for pollen to soar which will soon give allergy sufferers a glimpse of what to expect for the remainder of the season.”
Van Aswegen said the use of allergy medication, such as antihistamines, were the best way to combat hayfever.
“Hayfever sufferers should continue taking their medication even though dispersed rain may dampen symptoms.”
She said those allergic to pollen should take their medication at least two weeks prior to the start of the season, as it would reduce hayfever symptoms which included “an itchy, runny or blocked nose, irritated and watery, red eyes and/or a scratchy throat.”
Hayfever sufferers should also avoid exposure to pollen as far as possible.
This included keeping doors and windows closed to prevent pollen entering the house, avoiding the use of a fan and opting for air-conditioning as it decreased the quantity of pollen in a room and a car, as well as remaining indoors between 10am and 4pm on high pollen days.
Van Aswegen also recommended that hayfever sufferers wash their clothes after being outside to avoid pollen sticking to them and to avoid hanging clothing outside to dry.
They should also be alert to weather conditions.
“Changeable weather forecasts, which include short periods of rain, followed by sunshine and wind, just starts it all off again and is likely to prolong the season,” said Van Aswegen.