Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life. It is more common if there is a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Symptoms are usually worse during the summer when pollen counts are highest (seasonal allergic rhinitis). Some people have symptoms all year round and this is often due to allergies to dust or animals (allergic rhinitis).
The symptoms of hay fever include:
runny or blocked nose
itchy, red or watery eyes (also known as allergic conjunctivitis)
an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
cough, caused by postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose)
Less commonly, you may experience:
the loss of your sense of smell
facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)
tiredness and fatigue
Symptoms can vary depending on your sensitivity to pollen and the pollen count. If you have asthma, your asthma symptoms may get worse when you have hay fever.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen released from plants, trees and weeds or spores from fungi and moulds. When these tiny particles come into contact with the cells that line your mouth, nose, eyes and throat, they irritate them and trigger the release of histamine which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Different trees and plants produce their pollen at different times of the year. Depending on which pollen you are allergic to, you may experience your hay fever symptoms at different times:
January – April: tree pollen
May-August: grass pollen
August – October: weed pollen, fungal and mould spores
Most people's symptoms can be controlled using over-the-counter medication available from your totalhealth pharmacy.
Antihistamines e.g. “Anti-Hist Allergy” Tablets or Oral Solution -
Anti-Hist relieves the symptoms of hay fever and other allergic conditions. The treatment works by relieving skin rashes, itchy and watery eyes. “Anti-Hist Allergy” works for adults and children from 6 years of age. The patient takes a handy one dose per day to allow for relief all day. The treatment can be used in conjunction with “Prevalin Allergy Plus Spray”, which can provide fast relief at the onset of symptoms.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays e.g. Prevalin Allergy Plus Spray -
totalhealth Pharmacy is recommending the new “Prevalin Allergy Plus Spray” which has a unique double action formula that provides fast relief at the onset of symptoms, getting to work in just three minutes. The spray works by lining the inside of the nose and deactivating the pollen. They are very effective at preventing and relieving nasal symptoms, including sneezing and congestion. They can also relieve itchy, watery eyes. It can take a number of days for their effect to take place and they are most effective if you start using them before your symptoms begin and continue to use them daily during the hay fever season. Prevalin Allergy Plus is drug and steroid-free and suitable to use by pregnant and breastfeeding women. If the over-the-counter sprays are not fully effective, your doctor can prescribe different products that can be more effective.
Antihistamine eye drops e.g. Opticrom -
These are available over-the-counter to help treat and prevent red, itchy, watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis).
Many people will use a combination of treatments to control their hay fever symptoms.
totalhealth pharmacist's advice
The best way to control hay fever is to avoid your exposure to pollen. It is very difficult to avoid pollen completely, however, there are a number of tips to reduce your exposure to pollen:
Check the weather forecast for the pollen count and try to stay indoors when the count is high (over 50).
Keep windows and doors closed in the house and car.
Vacuum regularly using a machine with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.
Dust with a damp cloth to collect dust and pollen and prevent it from being spread around.
Avoid drying clothes outside.
Avoid cutting grass and grassy areas.
Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes.
Change your clothes and take a shower after being outside.