A WHOPPING 90% of hay fever sufferers in South Africa blamed their nasal allergy for ruining a special moment, this according to a national poll released recently.Birthdays (13%), long-awaited holidays (24%), job interviews/auditions (19%), important presentations (17%), even romantic dates (23%), intimate moments (18%), and weddings (6%) have all turned slimy, runny and sneezy due to uninvited nasal allergy symptoms. Among the 1 218 survey participants were a few sport pros who also confessed to hay fever getting in the way of running their personal best in the Comrades Marathon and a rugby hero being stifled by a blocked nose and watery eyes during the crucial final match of the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup that was played at Ellis Park. The survey, which was conducted by Pharma Dynamics — a leading provider of anti-allergy medication — highlighted that across the allergy spectrum, airborne allergens were primarily responsible for ruining many a special moment.Alisha Mackintosh, Allergy and Immunology Portfolio Manager for Pharma Dynamics, says 42% of participants blamed pollen, while a further 56% held dust responsible for their misery.“It’s true! Pollen and dust mites are the main airborne allergens, followed by mould, which can affect the more than 17 million South Africans suffering from nasal allergies, almost all year round”.Another 16% blamed their furry friends for their nasal congestion, however, Mackintosh says that while pet hair and dander could be triggers, it’s important for allergy sufferers to undergo a skin-prick test to pinpoint the exact allergen causing the discomfort as fine particles of dust and pollen often get caught on dog or cat fur, which means the sufferer is constantly exposed to the allergen, but it may not be as a result of their pets per se. During spring, when pollen is at its most rampant, it can also leave many looking like they’ve lost a round in a boxing ring. Those that took part in Pharma Dynamics’ allergy survey cited “shiners” – dark circles under the eye (38%), a droopy appearance (35%), skin rash (41%), nasal creasing (21%), and dry and chapped lips (36%) as some of the undesirable consequences. Before throwing in the towel, Mackintosh says there are plenty of solutions available to hay fever sufferers that could help to alleviate symptoms. “It’s difficult to entirely avoid exposure to especially airborne allergens, but thankfully there are over-the-counter treatments, such as antihistamines, that have proven effective for a runny and stuffy nose. These are usually available in tablet and syrup form. “Decongestant nasal sprays also help to shrink the inflamed nasal passages, which will allow sufferers to breathe a little easier, but shouldn’t be taken for longer than a few days consecutively. “Nasal corticosteroids could also help block an allergic reaction, but it’s best to consult a doctor or allergologist for a treatment specific to your condition. “Effective nasal sprays that are natural include Nexa Allershield which, based on clinical trials, reduces symptoms by 90%. It contains a natural cellulose powder of vegetable origin which shields the nasal membrane from airborne allergens. As it’s natural, it can be used by children and during pregnancy.” She says to maintain a glowing look during spring, avoid going outside when the pollen counts are high; drink enough water to stay hydrated; use gentle, hypoallergenic skincare products; and be sure to wash all make-up off your face with lukewarm water (not hot) before going to bed to limit facial redness and irritation. “For puffy eyes, use a cold compress, such as cucumber slices or Rooibos tea bags, or opt for soothing eye gel or drops. There are also various de-puffing eye creams on the market, which a pharmacist will be able to assist you with. Lastly, moisturise often and get enough sleep,” advises Mackintosh.For additional tips and advice regarding allergies, visit www.allergyexpert.co.za — Supplied.