HAY fever and how to best combat it is the hot topic among Ballarat gardeners right now. Brighter spring days are enticing more people back into their gardens with the annual dreads of hay fever and asthma symptoms.
Ballarat Community Garden president Sheilagh Kentish said the annual pollen season could be a terrible time for garden lovers if they struggled to breathe.
Ms Kentish has invested in a "pretty little mask" in a trip to Vietnam that she plans to wear to help fend off potential irritants.
Asthma Australia called on University of Melbourne botanical expert Ed Newbigin to help promote an allergy-friendly gardening experience. His key piece of advice was to avoid wind-pollinated plants and instead opt for bird or insect pollinated plants, which often had more attractive flowers.
Dr Newbigin also suggested finding a non-allergic person to mow the lawns, or to choose a native grass like weeping or kangaroo grass that do not produce as much pollen.
Ballarat Health Services respiratory and sleep physician Ged Dalgleish said people living in western Victoria were particularly prone to asthma and hay fever symptoms due to the types of grass, like rye, in the region. Dr Dalgleish said this was a big concern for people from visiting or moving from overseas or interstate who might be unused to the grasses here.
We are more prone and because Ballarat is a growing town we get a lot of people move here from places where they don't have same exposureDr Ged Dalgleish
"There's a general increase overall in seasonal asthma symptoms and people presenting in spring because that's when it happens - really windy day when pollen picked up from way out west and crops and brought in to suburban areas," Dr Dalgleish said.
"In western Victoria we usually tend to see more (hay fever and asthma) than in the city because they are a lot wetter and don't have same crops. We are more prone and because Ballarat is a growing town we get a lot of people move here from places where they don't have same exposure."
Dr Dalgleish urged people who were prone to symptoms that exacerbate with pollen and changing weather to consider modifying activity and consult weather apps with pollen counts.
Creswick has a pollen monitoring station, manned by University of Melbourne, that operates from October 1.
Ms Kentish said other handy gardener tips were to start weeding and putting manure in from now. Also, before cutting the garden to sprinkle with water a little first and letting it settle down.
Experts say now is the time to start preventative measures for hay fever and asthma rather than reactive. Asthma Australia experts say pollen allergies can be far more serious than many expect and this was why it was vital to be prepared.
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