Brennans Pharmacies continue their new column series here on Donegal Daily with professional pharmacist advice on health and wellness. This week, we’ll take a look at Hay Fever (allergic Rhinitis) and the symptoms, causes and treatments that work.
Fits of sneezing, blocked noses and itchy, watery eyes can only mean one thing: hay fever season is upon us again!
As many as one in five of us in Ireland suffer from hay fever each year, but what do we really know about this pesky condition? See our helpful guide below to find out more about what hay fever is, and how to stop its annoying symptoms interfering with your day.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction that our body produces in response to pollen. There are three main types of pollen, and each type is released at different times of the year. The three types include; tree pollen (released during spring), grass pollen (released throughout spring and summer) and weed pollens which is usually released in autumn.
When our body comes into contact with any allergen (including pollen), our immune system naturally tries to protect itself from this unwelcome invasion. It triggers our immune system to produce a series of symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose, eyes and throat becoming swollen, inflamed and itchy … these and all the debilitating effects we associate with hay fever.
Hay fever symptoms include
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- People with asthma may also find they are more wheezy during hay fever season
Who can get hay fever?
Unfortunately, hay fever can develop at any age in life. However, first hay fever symptoms are most commonly seen during childhood or adolescence. People with a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema are at an increased risk of developing hay fever. As previously mentioned, asthma sufferers may find their asthma symptoms worsen during hay fever symptoms. If this applies to you or someone you know, it might be worthwhile speaking to your GP or asthma nurse about reviewing the dosage of your asthma medication to ensure better control of asthma throughout the hay fever season.
Top tips to manage hay fever
Although there is no cure for hay fever, here are some top tips you can follow to help reduce your contact with pollen and reduce your hay fever symptoms;
- Use a barrier balm around your nostrils to trap incoming pollen. Our Nuage Barrier Balm is a great drug free product that is suitable for any age of hay fever sufferer.
- Change clothes and shower after going outside, this is to avoid any pollen on your clothes spreading. Or if you are out and about, why not try our handy Nuage Hayfever relief wipes, great for removing pollen from your face on the go.
- Regularly check the pollen forecast, preparation is key!
- Dry your washing inside so pollen will not be trapped on your clothes.
- Use wraparound sunglasses – not only will they protect your eyes from UV damage caused by sunlight but they will also act as a barrier and keep pollen out.
- Keep windows closed as much as possible.
- Invest in a humidifier in the bedroom – this will help to keep the air moist and reduce airborne dust and pollen.
There are many hayfever treatments available to buy over the counter at your local pharmacy, if you are unsure which treatment is right for you please do not hesitate to ask advice from your pharmacist. A few of the drug-free options such as the Nuage Barrier Balm and Hayfever Relief Wipes have been mentioned earlier in this article. Below are some of the most common medicated over the counter hay fever treatments and how they work.
Preventative (steroid) nasal spray
Nasal sprays such as Flixonase Allergy Relief or Beconase contain steroids that help to reduce inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the nasal passages. They help to ease symptoms such as blocked nose and headache associated with hay fever. Suitable for those over 18 years of age, they are a great option for those who regularly suffer from hayfever symptoms however they can take three or four days to have maximum effect.
Decongestant nasal spray
Another alternative to help with a blocked nose would be the like of Sudafed Nasal Spray. Decongestant nasal sprays help to unblock stuffy noses to help you breathe more easily. These should not be used for longer than 7 consecutive days as they can cause rebound congestion.
Antihistamines (tablets or oral solution)
There are several different types of antihistamines available over the counter, some people find that one type works better for them than another. Once a day tablets such as Cetrine or Lorat are a handy option for keeping your hay fever under control, Cetrine also comes in a liquid form making it suitable for all the family (suitable for children over 2 years). They work by reducing the body’s natural levels of histamine (an inflammatory substance that is released in response to an allergen) and so stops symptoms of hay fever occurring.
There are a few different types of eye drops suitable for use in hay fever, they work to reduce inflammation and irritation in the eyes to help soothe itchy and watery eyes.
We hope this article has helped to shed some light on hayfever and given you an idea on how to treat your hayfever symptoms this spring. If you have any questions or would like further advice please do not hesitate to phone or call in to your local Brennans Pharmacy today. We’re here for you.
For help with any health issues, talk to your local Brennans pharmacist, we’re here for you.
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