Seasonal Allergies: Causes & Prevention Tips
19th January 2023
Seasonal allergies can negatively impact all aspects of life, and with allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) affecting around 15% of the Australian population1, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to seasonal allergy treatment.
Season allergies like pollen allergy can begin in spring, and last all the way through summer. Warmer temperatures exacerbate these triggers and can cause seasonal allergy symptoms to last longer. Causes aren’t limited to the warmer months however – triggers like mould and dust mites can permeate indoors in winter and affect home health.
To understand seasonal allergy causes and how to prevent them, Dyson has researched this phenomenon extensively. See how Dyson’s vacuum and air purifier technology can address the yearly range of allergens.
Understanding seasonal allergies
A seasonal allergy occurs when the body perceives a trigger (like pollen or dust mite faeces) and reacts to it. For someone who experiences season allergies, these triggers are treated like a virus by the body – and the resulting symptoms are due to their body fighting them off.
Once an allergen is inhaled, the body releases antibody proteins called Immunogobulin E (or IgE), which then releases histamines in your nose, mouth, gut, lungs and skin. Histamines have an adverse effect – increasing blood flow to these areas and causing them to swell. Your mucus membranes are also activated. As a result, common seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Types of seasonal allergies
For seasonal allergy treatment to be effective, you first need to understand your unique triggers. As seasonal allergy causes vary throughout the year, locating the period you’re most affected is a helpful place to start. A good guideline to season allergies includes:
Spring: tree pollen, grass pollen, and mould.
Summer: grass and weed (especially ragweed) pollen and mould.
Autumn: ragweed pollen, mould, dust mites.
Winter: pet dander, dust mites, mould, indoor irritants, holiday décor.
View different triggers below and the seasons in which they’re present.
Found indoors in areas where skin is shed, dust mites can trigger seasonal allergies. Microscopic in size, it’s the faeces that they produce which have negative impacts. Dust mites are commonly found in mattresses pillows, pet beds, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and foam rubber bedding. Because they are an indoor pest, dust mites can cause allergies throughout the year. When dust is present in the home, it’s likely that dust mites are too.
Grass, tree, and weed pollen can be year-round or specific to season, depending on how warm the climate is. Invisible to the naked eye, pollen can travel widely once airborne and access indoors. It can also become attached to clothing, hair and pet hair, and transfer to furniture and carpeting that way. Tree pollen and grass pollen are mostly associated with spring and summer months.
Mould spores can not only be tracked in from outdoors – for example from wet leaves, moist soil, or rotting wood - but can also be found in upholstered furniture, garbage bins, mattresses, air conditioning units, humidifiers, wallboards, wood, fabric, damp basements, closets, bathrooms, refrigerator drip trays, and even houseplants.
Common mould types which cause season allergies include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium – and can be find in both cold and warm months.
Pet dander refers to the proteins, skin flakes, saliva and urine which attach themselves to dust and pet hair. They can also harbour dust mites, and act as a source of food for them. Dander can cause year-wide allergies, and pet fur can collect pollen, mould spores, and other allergens, so it’s important to remove pet hair from the home regularly and effectively.
Other airborne irritants
During winter (when homes are sealed to keep in heat and are never or rarely ventilated), other airborne irritants can cause allergic reactions. These irritants can be sourced from all over the home. For example, perfumed products like hair stylers, self-care products or scented candles in bathrooms and bedrooms can trigger allergy symptoms. Throughout the rest of the house, paint, cooking fumes, and cleaning products can cause seasonal allergy symptoms. Even car exhaust fumes from garages or smoke from fireplaces and wood burning stoves, can too cause allergic reactions and respiratory distress.
2Filtration tested against ASTM F3150, tested in Boost mode by independent third-party, SGS-IBR Laboratories US in 2022. Filtration efficiency is calculated by comparing the number of standardised dust particles entering the vacuum cleaner against those released. The capture rate may differ depending on actual environment and the mode.
3Tested for filtration efficiency at 0.1 microns (EN1822).