New study seeks Gold Coast hayfever sufferers

Girl sneezing
Griffith researchers are seeking Gold Coast hayfever sufferers for a new study

It’s sneezin’ season on the Gold Coast, but relief may soon be on the way.

Griffith University, in conjunction with Queensland Allergy Specialists, is seeking Gold Coast hayfever sufferers to participate in an eight-week study that involves taking a daily probiotic supplement and reporting symptoms of allergy.

Probiotic supplements are showing promise as a means of improving the symptoms and quality of life in individuals suffering allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hayfever.

Allergic rhinitis affects up to 30 per cent of the general population and symptoms include rhinorrhea, pruritus, sneezing and nasal congestion.

Professor Pete Smith, an allergy specialist physician, says spring is a particularly difficult time on the Gold Coast, with high pollen levels in the air.

“Spring is when the symptoms of hayfever reduce quality of sleep, interfere with normal activities and require the use of over the counter medications,” says Professor Smith.

Dr Nic West, of the Mucosal Immunology Research Group at Griffith University, highlights that probiotics have recently been shown to reduce allergic responses.

“Probiotic bacteria are known to interact with the immune system. While the exact mechanisms are uncertain, evidence suggests that probiotic bacteria might promote immune tolerance to external stimulants, such as pollen, that lead to hayfever”.

Dr Amanda Cox, also with the Mucosal Immunology Research Group, has undertaken a number of probiotic studies. She says this particular supplement has strains that have been found to modulate the immune system for the management of allergic disease.

“This offers allergic rhinitis sufferers hope that a supplement can help with their condition,” she says.

Participants will also be offered the chance to have their gut bacteria profiled and their immune systems analysed. The study team can be contacted at [email protected] or 0421 627 367.