You may call us optimistic but in this month’s blog we are focusing on Hayfever – and yes we are still dreaming of some sunshine this summer – and we don’t mean more of the ‘liquid sunshine’ we have been enjoying of late!
Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one-in-five people, the symptoms typically being the dreaded sneezes, a runny nose and itchy eyes.
These are caused by an allergic reaction to a fine powder released by plants called pollen. It is the proteins in pollen that do the damage causing the eyes, nose, throat and sinuses to become inflamed.
The condition is more common in boys than in girls. In adults, men and women are equally affected. Hay fever is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly asthma and eczema.
Although sufferers typically improve their tolerance with age there is no cure and apart from avoiding exposure to pollen, which can be difficult on a summer day.
Some Preventative measures include;
• wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes
• change clothes and take showers after being outdoors to remove pollen
• try to stay indoors when the pollen count is high (over 50).
Treatments are available to help with symptoms and can be quite effective, these include antihistamine nasal sprays, antihistamine tablets, steroid nasal sprays, and eye s.
Antihistamine nasal spray
This can work quite quickly to ease itching, sneezing and watering. This works by blocking the allergic response to allergens. A spray can be used as required if you have mild symptoms. It can also be taken regularly to keep symptoms away.
Antihistamine tablets and liquids
These work well if you have both eye and nose symptoms but are not as effective for just runny noses. They are also more suitable for children and work quite quickly, normally within an hour.
These can be taken on a daily basis as required and different brands are available. Chlorphenamine are effective but can cause drowsiness. Loratadine and cetirizine both work in different ways and don’t cause drowsiness. Your pharmacist will be able to advise which is most suitable for you.
Examples include Piriton (Chlorphenamine), Loratadine (Numark Non-Drowsy Allergy Relief), and cetirizine (Piriteze or Zirtek).
Steroid nasal sprays and drops
Steroid nasal sprays work well to clear all the nasal symptoms (itch, sneezing, watering and congestion) by reducing inflammation in the nose. It can take several weeks for these sprays to be effective so most people will start taking a few weeks before the hayfever season.
There are several brands which you can buy at pharmacies, or get on prescription, examples of over the counter sprays include Beconase and Flixonase or now Pirinase.
Eye drops can also be used with other treatments. There are two main types;
Antihistamines, good for flare ups, and mast cell stabilisers which block the release of histamine and prevent symptoms eg Eg Optrex allergy eyes, or Opticrom
Other nasal sprays
Decongestant nasal sprays can also be useful particularly if some of the above are not suitable or in addition, however these should only be used for a short period of time (5-7 days) after which they can make symptoms worse. They do have to be taken at regular intervals (4-5 times each day) eg Otrivine Nasal Spray
We hope you found this information helpful, if you feel you would like further advice on Hayfever and associated symptoms or on any other health matter, please feel free to visit one of our pharmacies where a member of our healthcare team will be happy to offer free confidential advice.