08 April 2019
Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis which causes a runny itchy nose with sneezing and itchy, watery sore eyes. It is triggered by plant pollen in the spring and grass pollen in the summer. It can be hugely distressing and incapacitating in some individuals.
Why does it happen
Individuals who suffer with hay fever are ‘atopic’, they have a tendency to develop allergies which is partly predetermined by:
- Allergen exposure
Tips to help deal with hay fever:
Although it is virtually impossible to completely avoid pollen, the following may help to reduce symptoms:
- Stay inside when the pollen count is high in the early morning and evening, or just after a thunder storm
- Avoid sleeping with the bedroom window open
- Keep car windows shut when travelling
How can I control my symptoms?
- Nasal steroid sprays are very helpful for blocked, runny/itchy noses. They are simple to use and can be bought from your local pharmacy. Nasal steroid sprays are not effective immediately and therefore need to be started at least two weeks before the start of the pollen season and used daily to achieve optimal control of symptoms
- Antihistamines - For the majority, taking a non-drowsy antihistamine will help to relieve/prevent symptoms such as Cetirizine or Loratadine. Fexofenadine is only available on prescription
- Eye drops can relieve itchy and streaming eyes during high season and Olopatadine from your General Practitioner is particularly useful
- Steroid injections are discouraged in the UK, but if your symptoms are particularly severe despite a combination of the above, you may be considered for a short course of oral steroids to help you to the end of the pollen season
If above measures do not control your symptoms, it may be time to see a specialist.
Professor Richard Powell confirms that the above helps the majority of pollen sufferers, but those that fail despite a combination of medication above may benefit from allergen specific oral desensitisation.
Allergic rhinitis all year round is usually caused by cat and house dust mite allergens.
Professor Powell holds regular clinics here at Spire Harpenden Hospital. To book in with him today, give our self-pay team a call on: 01582 788 412 and they will be happy to help.