Allergies to substances present in the air contribute to asthma and allergic rhinitis (hayfever). Important allergens include house dust mite, pollens, mould and animal dander. When it comes to managing asthma and rhinitis, testing for allergic sensitisation has an important role. Beyond the clinical assessment testing can be performed on blood (RAST or specific IgE testing) and with skin prick testing (SPT).
Rye grass allergy was responsible for the epidemic of acute asthma that affected thousands of people across Melbourne during the thunderstorm event of November 21, 2016. The weather conditions on that particular evening resulted in large numbers of tiny rye grass particles penetrating to the lower airways. Under normal conditions larger rye grass particles are filtered by the nose. Rye grass allergy is very common, even in the absence of a history of asthma.
The principles of managing allergies to inhaled aeroallergens include avoidance (where possible) and/or consideration of immunotherapy (desensitisation treatment). Immunotherapy may be delivered by subcutaneous injections or by sublingual tablets.
Sublingual immunotherapy for house dust mite allergy now has a formal place in the National Asthma Council guidelines
Sublingual immunotherapy is available for grass pollens (including rye grass) as well as house dust mite allergies.