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Research shows hay fever nothing to sneeze at

Interior design guru Darren Palmer shares his hay fever story

Recent research has uncovered the impact of hay fever symptoms on the lives of Australians with the condition. The results of the Facing Allergies Can End Stigma (FACES) survey showed that people’s social interactions, romantic relations, work productivity and self-esteem were negatively impacted by hay fever. The survey showed 6 in 10 (61%) respondents said their hay fever made them feel less attractive. Two in five (43%) reported cancelling or changing social plans and a quarter (26%) had taken a sick day as a result of their hay fever.1

The survey results have been revealed as part of the Hay Fever Help campaign. The initiative is reminding people living with hay fever that their lives don’t have to be dictated by their hay fever and to seek help from a doctor for advice on management options this spring.

Leading Australian interior designer Darren Palmer has dealt with his own hay fever symptoms for many years and joined the Hay Fever Help campaign to encourage others get on top of their condition.

Darren has shared his experiences suffering with hay fever saying, “As an interior designer and renovator I’m around a lot of dust and mould which really sets off my hay fever. Even pollen from certain trees around my studio can trigger a runny nose or itchy, red eyes. It can be really disruptive to my schedule, particularly when I’m renovating or in the middle of filming.”

“Like a lot of people I know, I attempted to self-manage my symptoms with over-the-counter options when it affected me. I didn’t realise that a GP would be able to help me better manage my hay fever longer term. I’m hoping to encourage other people with hay fever to visit their doctor this spring. No one wants to be slowed down by hay fever,” said Palmer.

Over three million Australians suffer from hay fever2 and the prevalence in Australia is predicted to be on the rise.3 People affected may experience troublesome symptoms, such as nasal congestion; itchy, red or watery eyes; runny nose and sneezing, particularly during spring.4

Key survey results1:

  • 6 in 10 Australians say their hay fever made them feel less attractive1
  • Two in five (43%) admit they have cancelled or changed social plans because of hay fever symptoms1
  • A quarter (26%) have taken a sick day as a result of their hay fever1
  • More than a third (35%) acknowledged their hay fever had affected their romantic relationships in some way1

While some Australians can successfully self-manage their hay fever, some continue to struggle to keep their symptoms under control.5

Professor Connie Katelaris, Consultant Immunologist/ Allergist at Campbelltown Hospital, says uncontrolled hay fever can have a huge impact on the quality of a person’s day to day life.

“Many Australians continue to put up with symptoms despite the availability of a range of effective treatment options. This campaign encourages people with uncontrolled symptoms to visit their doctor to identify the treatment option and management plan that suits them best. Doing this can help hay fever sufferers get back to enjoying life.”

The recent episode of thunderstorm asthma in Australia also has experts calling for people with hay fever to be vigilant with their symptom control.6

Professor Katelaris says many people affected by hay fever may also experience asthma symptoms and should visit their doctor to ensure they are prepared before peak pollen periods.

‘The thunderstorm asthma experienced in Melbourne is an important reminder for people affected by hay fever and asthma. Many people don’t realise uncontrolled hay fever is a risk factor for asthma as well.  For those with co-existing conditions, their control of asthma is dependent on the control of their hay fever.”

“It is important for people with uncontrolled hay fever symptoms to visit their doctor well before spring, to identify an appropriate management plan,” said Professor Katelaris.

Maria Said, President of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, says hay fever continues to be poorly diagnosed and managed in Australia.

“A key issue is that hay fever symptoms are often mistaken for a common cold. We want people affected to recognise that if this is something they are dealing with on a regular basis, they can visit their doctor to discuss appropriate treatment and management. There is no need to suffer in silence each year”, stated Ms Said.

People with hay fever can visit  to check the daily pollen prediction, watch Darren’s video 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 2017.

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


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

GSK Australia Enquiries or interview requests contact:

Ishtar Schneider   Maya Ivanovic
0422 944 023 0403 354 305
02 9412 2255 02 9412 2255



  1. FACES (Facing Allergies Can End Stigma) Survey. Conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of GSK (2016).
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Allergic Rhinitis Accessed 4 July 2017.
  3. Access Economics for the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). The economic impact of allergic disease in Australia: not to be sneeze at. ASCIA/Deloitte Access Economics Report; 2007
  4. ASICA. Information for patients, consumers and carers: Is it allergic rhinitis? Accessed 13 June 2017.
  5. Walls R et al. MJA 2005; 182: 28–33
  6. Mitchell C. Got Hayfever? Be alert for thunderstorm asthma. MJA Insight Dec 2016 Issue 48



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