These practical tips and suggestions will help you survive allergy season in the Cape.
Following the Cape’s recent drought, everyone is grateful for all the rain – with the possible exception of allergy sufferers!
Thanks to a wet winter, the Cape is facing a bumper pollen season. Levels of grass, tree pollen and airborne mould spores are set to peak from October.
Monitor pollen counts in Cape Town
One way to mitigate the worst effects of the Cape’s allergy season is to know when pollen counts are high and which plants are responsible for the current peak.
A team of UCT scientists has come up with a reliable online resource, The Real Pollen Count, featuring current pollen counts in Cape Town and other South African cities. By using data published in the weekly reports, allergy sufferers can take extra precautions during peak pollen times.
Medical treatment of allergic rhinitis
Treatments for allergic rhinitis (the medical term for hay fever) vary according to the severity of the symptoms. In mild cases, home remedies may be effective against a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion and sneezing.
It’s always advisable to consult a doctor experienced in treating allergies for the best treatments. A number of reputable sources online offer information about the diagnosis and treatment of allergic rhinitis.
An interesting new platform – StuffThatWorks – may offer further useful tips on what hay fever treatments work the best.
The platform uses a crowdsourcing model to gather survey results from users about the treatments they find the best for specific health conditions. It includes an allergic rhinitis group.
Helpful suggestions for allergy sufferers
Lowering the exposure to allergens and pollen can dampen the severity of allergic rhinitis. Here are a few ways to reduce symptoms:
- install an extractor fan in the kitchen and bathroom
- use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters
- close doors and windows when pollen counts are high
- avoid trimming hedges, raking leaves or mowing lawns
- cover the mouth and nose when dusting and cleaning
- exercise outdoors later in the day when pollen counts are lower
- tumble-dry washing instead of hanging it outside
- invest in a dehumidifier for damp areas in your home
- stay indoors during dry, windy weather.
Which plants cause allergies in Cape Town?
In the Cape, common grasses, weeds and alien trees, like oaks, plane trees and olive trees, produce what’s known as “allergenic” pollen that can trigger hay fever.
Generally, indigenous plants, like Cape fynbos, are not allergy-inducing. Exceptions are plants belonging to the Erica and restio families.
The white stinkwood and rhus are the only endemic trees in Cape Town that are associated with allergic rhinitis. Winter grass, buffalo, kikuyu and rye grass release billions of airborne pollen grains – a red flag for allergy sufferers.
Daisies, dandelion and English plantain are common weeds that produce potent allergens.
Cleaning during allergy season
Cleaning is one mode of attack in the war on hay fever. Reducing the amount of pollen and mould spores in your home can lessen the severity of symptoms.
Avoid exacerbating the problem by wearing a dust mask and using cleaning techniques that don’t agitate dust, pollen and allergens.
Better still, recruit our professional team at Chelsea Cleaning to sanitise and deep clean your home.
Our steam-cleaning process is one of the most effective ways of eliminating mould and pollen spores without dispersing them in the air.
Steam and heat penetrate deep into carpet fibres, upholstery fabric and mattress material. Allergens, grime and dirt are removed for good.