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Spring is here, so are allergies: Get some expert tips

Dr Raj Khillan, Melbourne based paediatrician

Spring time in Australia often means a sharp increase in allergies, says paediatrician Dr Raj Khillan. He says parents need to take special care of their children who may suffer from hay fever, asthma or thunderstorm asthma.

According to well-known Melbourne paediatrician Raj Khillan, “Thunderstorm asthma can affect anyone – it isn’t necessary that one needs to have a history of hay fever or asthma to be impacted by it.”

Dr Khillan says he is often asked by his patients, why their children suffer from allergies like hay fever, eczema and asthma in a clean first-world country like Australia, whilst they didn’t have any symptoms back in India or other countries in the subcontinent.

“There is a hygiene hypothesis, which states the cleaner your environment, the more likely it is that you’ll be impacted by allergies.”

“It’s the same with something like a mosquito bite. Children born in India generally don’t get large red bumps like the ones that children born overseas get, when they visit India.”

Another thing to be wary of is dust mite allergy, according to Dr Khillan.

“Dust mites cause year-long allergies and aren't just seasonal. Dust mites can live in the bed or in the pillows, and especially in soft toys which almost all parents give to their children. We encourage parents to wash these toys at a specific temperature to get rid of mites.”

The most important health tip that Dr Khillan gave was to parents to check the pollen forecast during spring.

“Everyone living in Australia knows that whenever spring comes, there is a tendency to sneeze a lot, to have itchy eyes, and even the asthma symptoms can worsen. The biggest threat is from thunderstorm asthma, which claimed many lives in Melbourne just a few years ago.”

‘I request everyone to download an app on your phone which gives details about the pollen index for the day. If the forecast is ‘high’ or ‘extreme’, please ensure that your children take the nasal spray for hay fever before going to school. The same precaution is necessary for children with asthma.”

“It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

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