Don’t suffer in silence: Experts urge hay fever sufferers to get symptoms under control this spring

• Leading lifestyle commentator Shelly Horton reveals hay fever struggle
• Over 3 million Australians could be affected by hay fever season
• Up to 8 in 10 people with asthma also affected by hay fever

Leading Australian lifestyle and media commentator Shelly Horton has sprung into action today launching a new health campaign urging people to get on top of their hay fever symptoms by visiting a doctor this spring.

The initiative called Hay Fever Help, comes as over three million Australians1 may experience troublesome symptoms such as nasal congestion, itchy red or watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing during the spring season. People with related conditions like asthma are also encouraged to think ahead as studies show up to 80 per cent of people with asthma also experience symptoms of hay fever2.

Hay Fever Help highlights the important role doctors can play in helping manage hay fever which affects 15% of Australians3. A GP is well placed to assist patients as they can evaluate a patient’s lifestyle, symptoms and previous medical history to work out what management option suits them best. However, a 2015 survey shows over half (53%) of Australians with hay fever have never sought advice from a GP to manage their symptoms4. One in five also reported they were unaware a doctor could offer them advice and treatment for hay fever4.

Shelly Horton has lent her support to the campaign, speaking out for the first time about her experiences suffering with hay fever from a young age.

“Growing up in Kingaoy (QLD) which is famous for peanuts, meant harvest seasons were particularly tough for me because the dust was always in the air. It really intensified my symptoms and I struggled for years, even after I moved away. It could even snowball into sinus pain or a toothache which was excruciating.”

“I tried over-the-counter options but the relief was limited and temporary for me. I don’t know why it took me so long to go see a doctor to get help. I’m hoping by sharing my story it will encourage others to do the same. No one should have to live their lives inconvenienced by hay fever,” said Horton.

Professor Connie Katelaris, Consultant Immunologist/ Allergist at Campbelltown Hospital, says patients should go to their GP as the first port of call rather than as a last resort.

“Spring can be a particularly trying time for people affected by hay fever. This campaign aims to encourage people who have uncontrolled symptoms to seek help from their GP before the season is in full swing. People often put up with symptoms that can have a huge impact on their daily life despite the availability of a range of effective treatment options.”

“People also don’t realise persistent hay fever can be mistaken as a permanent cold and as a result treat it incorrectly. Your GP can help clarify your symptoms and determine the treatment option and management plan that is right for you," said Professor Katelaris.

People with hay fever can visit www.HayFeverHelp.com.au  to check the daily pollen prediction and find out more information. They can also join the conversation on social media by using #HayFeverHelp.

The campaign will run through to the end of September 2016.

For more information about your own hay fever symptoms, speak to your healthcare professional.

ENDS

This media release has been issued by Palin Communications on behalf of GSK.

GSK Australia Enquiries or interview requests contact:

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References:

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Allergic Rhinitis Accessed 4 July 2016. http://www.aihw.gov.au/allergic-rhinitis/
  2. ASCIA. Information for patients, consumers and carers: About Asthma and Allergy. http://www.allergy.org.au/images/pcc/ASCIA_PCC_About_asthma_and_allergy_2015.pdf
  3. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever in Australia) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2011 Edition. Pages 6 and 8.  http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737420519
  4. 'Allergic Rhinitis in Australia' McCrindle consumer research, commissioned by GSK. Quantitative online survey conducted 8-14th September 2015 of 1,027 Australian respondents aged 18 years and over who selected suffering from hay fever. (p11)

About GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit www.au.gsk.com. GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 100 162 481) Melbourne, VIC. AUS/FF/0011/16c. Date of approval: August 2016.

Additional notes:

Shelly Horton is being paid a fee as a contracted ambassador for the unbranded disease education campaign called Hay Fever Help. In relation to this GSK media announcement, the opinions expressed by Shelly are her own. Shelly has been briefed by GSK on the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct.

Professor Connie Katelaris has served on advisory boards and been involved in clinical trials sponsored by GSK for which compensation was received. In relation to this GSK media announcement, no compensation was provided to Professor Katelaris, and the opinions expressed are her own.